Two hot spot tourist destinations of India have come together to promote tourism in each other’s state. For Sikkim this ingenious deal promises to boost tourism in the long run.
Sikkim, which was often overlooked by foreign tourists visiting Incredible India, is bracing up to attract them to its snow-clad hills and lush greenery. Tourism sector is the top revenue earner for the state. However, due to sloppy government policies and lack of marketing drive, this Himalayan state remained out of bounds for most foreign tourists.
With world’s third highest mountain, Mt. Kanchendzonga and rich biodiversity, Sikkim enthralls everyone who visits her. Now with the deal in place, hopes are high that this would shoot up inflow of foreign tourists.
As per the agreement, Goa’s tourism authorities will advertise Sikkim as a tourist option and get a commission on each booking made through them. Since, Goa is already a known tourist destination on world map, it will help Sikkim invariably. NK Subba, chairman of the Sikkim Tourism Development Corporation is very ebullient with the arrangement. “Through this agreement we are hoping that foreign tourists will get to know the state better and visit Sikkim regularly,” he says.
The reverse flow of tourists will be quite smaller. But then, Goa does not need promotion while Sikkim does. In the year 2008, the number of foreign tourist who visited Sikkim were 21,162. It gradually dropped in 2009 to only 17,730 foreign tourists visiting the state. This year the figures are on the rise, and with the deal in place, Sikkim may bring in a record number of tourists.
The Central Government is also doing its bit to make Sikkim a favored foreign tourists destination. In November 2009 the government relaxed the “inner line permit” (a special permission needed to travel inside Sikkim) norms. Now trekkers can visit in groups of two and stay for 30 days (which too can be extended), as against the case earlier when groups of four were allowed for just 10 days. Visitor permits can be obtained in Delhi, Kolkata, Sikkim and at Indian missions abroad. Where no trekking is involved, they can even come alone and get a permit on the spot from places like Bagdogra airport, Melli and Rangpo (all entry points to Sikkim).