Adventure tourism kicks off post-Unlock, footfall increases despite the winter chill
The revival of the travel and tourism industry including adventure tourism has taken a progressive path one event at a time in the state of Sikkim, with more than 90,000 tourists having received travel permits since the unlock phase began in the month of October. Meanwhile, during the lockdown phase, the state had to undergo a dry season with no travellers allowed leaving the busy roads and the nature to itself
Annually, about 16 lakh tourist travellers visit the state, its natural high-altitude terrain makes the region a favourable place for adventure sports such as mountain biking, paragliding, rock climbing zip-lining and many more. The state’s richness in tourism is to be remarked highly as it reflects on the state’s economy as well.
However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, all these sectors were hit hard and were non-operational, moreover due to restrictions in movement tourist the revenue generated through it was bottomed till zero. The stakeholders, homestays were on the verge of getting bankrupt, the tourism sector was helpless. More than 2500 households across the state were affected by the pandemic among with 1000 households approximately alone form the west district of the state.
The West district of Sikkim was affected most with more than 1000 households grounded during the lockdown. However, when the unlock phase started, the path for the revival of tourism was taken up by people at different places of the district. Such as the 1st Khangchendzonga Adventure Tourism Meet organized by the Pelling Tourism Development Association which included adventure sports like rock climbing, zip-lining, mountaineering and also the 1st national level paragliding accuracy championship tournament. Following which, 12 states across the nation showed its participation. The festival was 5 days long.
Narayan Khatiwada, president, PTDA stated: “The tourism sector including adventure tourism was hit hard during the pandemic and when the state government reopened the tourism sector in the month of October we as a team started working for the revival of the tourism sector in the state and with regard to that our association took a further step for the revival of the tourism in the state and also with an objective to promote adventure tourism so that youths of the generation could take part in it.”
The 5-day long adventure meet at Pelling included many other tourism-related stalls, such as traditional food centres, mountaineering equipment shop and also a special store for homestays which in it promotes village tourism.
The Chief Minister of Sikkim, Prem Singh Tamangchief made a point to inspect all the various stalls personally and while addressing the gathering he stated that the revival of the tourism sector is a challenge to all, so the government in this sector will provide the necessary aid.
“Sikkim is a growing state, our main focus will be village tourism as we want to reach tourism to the remotest areas of the state as well”, said Tamang. "Traditional ethnic culture of the state should be preserved through making traditional homestays. Building and cottage cannot be called as a homestay".
During the Adventure Tourism Meet, Pelling Sajid Chougle, a wingsuit flyer from Mumbai was also invited to perform sky diving, wherein speaking with Sikkim Chronicle he said, "The whole idea was to educate the people what a free fall sport is moreover introducing how to freefall sport can be taken into the concept of adventure tourism."
Indra Hang Subba MP, and also the Chief Patron of the Adventure tourism Meet said, “Government jobs in our state is saturated so youths should be self-reliant and focus on the tourism industry and promote village tourism." He also added that the government will also provide aid by providing loans to build homestays.
The tourism industry in Sikkim is diverse in its nature, the terrain and its traditional and ethnic culture remain the backbone of the system. It’s a fact that more than 60%of the population of the state takes tourism as the source of income, so the revival of the tourism industry and promotion becomes a top priority for the government as well as the people
By Sherap Palden Bhutia
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