Gangtok, February 3, 2014:
Adventure lovers from different parts of the world are making a beeline for thrilling experience in Sikkim for adventure holidays in foot hills of Himalayas. Increasing number of foreign visiting paragliding pilots are showing interest to spend their flying holidays in Sikkim.
The state which is fast emerging as paragliding destination of the country has turned into a heaven for tourists on one of the final settlements on the brink of a vast and desolate mountain region, uninhabited apart from occasional groups of trekkers.
Sikkim is fast turning out to be one of the hotspots for the adventure sport in the country due to excellent launching sites and ridges according to a cross-section of paragliders. The state gained popularity among the paragliding community after the successful organization of first Sikkim Paragliding Festival at “beautiful flying site” Bulbuley Dara by Tourism & Civil Aviation Department of Sikkim in association with Paragliding Association of India [PAI] and Sikkim Paragliding Adventure Sports Co-operative Society Limited in the year 2012. Around 60 Indian and International paragliding pilots took to the skies in various events like Free Flying event, Spot Landing contest, Acro Show, Tandem Flights etc during the four days festival.
The Sikkim emerged on the paragliding map of the country after state government sponsored 30 local youths for basic paragliding training in Manali in Himachal Pradesh during the year 2008 under “Chief Minister Self Employment and Capacity Building Program” to promote adventures tourism in big way in the state. Then after formation of “Sikkim Paragliding Adventure Sports Cooperative Society” in year 2010,the Organization conducted the intermediate and advance training of the pilots at Bir/Billing (Himachal Pradesh) , Kamshet (Pune) and Pokhara (Nepal), with certified schools and Instructors
At present the state has more than 35 qualified commercial pilots who are conducting paragliding sessions at the backdrop of mountain ranges in its three paragliding sites at Bulbuley Dara, Ranka, Chakung. Four Sikkimese paragliding pilots have already participated in international level events like Nepal Open Championship, and Himalayan open Championship. which played an instrumental role in promoting Sikkim as the preferred venue at international level.
Sikkimese paragliding pilots are also providing training and technical expertise at various other places of north eastern states to promote the adventures sports in entire north eastern region. At present around 100 youth is associated with the paragliding events which generates annual economic activities of around one crore in a year.
The state govt plans to actively associate around 500 youths with the paragliding sports by developing two more modern paragliding sites at Yumthang and Soren with latest world class facilities by spending 10 crore Rs during the 12th five year plan.
The state govt plans to develop at least two paragliding sites with latest safety ,medical and infrastructural facilities at each district of the state by the year 2020 to attract the international tourists to new areas, said Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling.
The various paragliding associations registered with Department of Tourism are providing Tandom, High Fly, Medium Fly flight services of different durations from various sites on reasonable rates.
The state has registered 6000 paragliding tourists in last three years. The state registered only 500 paragliding tourist during first year and its number increased steadily each year. The state has set target to attract 5000 paragliding tourist each year by the year 2020 by creating modern facilities.
The state govt aims to generate annual economic activities of Rs 10 crore from paragliding events by the year 2020 said Sikkim Tourism Minister Bhim Prasad Dhungel
The state govt is planning to expand and beautify the existing takeoff at Bulbuley dara and Chakung, so that the carrying capacity of the takeoff increases, as the number of Sikkimese pilots is increasing and numbers of tourist coming to fly is on rise.
Paragliding services in the state are also being diversified after the Sikkim Paragliding Festival and a new hike and fly route in west Sikkim has been established . A new paragliding route from Phoktey Dara (Nepal/India) border and Dentam has also been identified.
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