Officials say tourism is on the rebound in Sikkim

The tourism industry, the mainstay of Sikkim’s economy, is back on its feet after the lifting of the Covid-19-induced lockdown late last year, officials said.

According to tourism department records, as many as 3.08 lakh domestic tourists visited the hill state last year between October and March 2022, with January being the most profitable month for various stakeholders in the sector with 98,456 visitors.

“We have seen a massive growth in the tourism industry with the arrival of a large number of visitors from across the country since the end of last year after the state government lifted the lockdown,” a tourism department official told PTI.

As far as the number of foreigners is concerned, 6,055 people visited Sikkim during this period.

In 2019, the Himalayan state recorded around 1.6 lakh tourist arrivals, and this year too, the number is expected to increase over the next few months, officials said.
Travel agents have breathed a sigh of relief after nearly two years of stagnation.

“During the peak season, all the hotels, stay homes and lodges were fully occupied. The state saw huge revenue generation after a while,” said SN Lachungpa, president of Travel Agents Association of Sikkim (TAAS).

Official sources said that about 75 percent of the local population is directly or indirectly dependent on the tourism industry of Sikkim.

The temporary closure of the tourism industry led to an increase in the unemployment rate in Sikkim, which stood at 10 percent when the Covid-19 situation was at its nadir, according to data provided by the state’s directorate of economics, statistics, monitoring and evaluation of “tour operators, hoteliers, traders, vendors and Taxi drivers were the worst sufferers,” Sikkim Tourism Development Commission Chairman Lukendra Rasaili said.

Rasaili estimates that restrictions on movement will cost the sector at that time Rs. 600 crore to Rs. The loss was in the range of 700 crores.

Gangtok MLA Sonam Venchungpa said, keeping in mind the plight of those rendered jobless by the pandemic, the state government has given all taxi drivers a subsistence allowance of Rs. 6,000 in financial assistance, who is also the Chairman of the Economic Revival Committee constituted by Prem Singh Tamang Govt.

The committee has prepared a comprehensive report with recommendations for long-term support to the tourism sector, which employs 78,800 people, second only to agriculture in terms of employment generation in Sikkim, Wenchungpa explained.

In light of pending and incomplete tourism-related projects in the report, Rs. A support package of Rs 200-250 crore has also been proposed, he added.

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