Yet another feat for Tourism Sector in Sikkim: The nation’s most progressive state in tourism received the maximum number foreign tourists in the year 2007 to 2009, according to the data released by the Ministry of Tourism of domestic and foreign tourist visits to North- Eastern States during the year 2007 to 2009.
The press release issued by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India today, puts Sikkim way ahead than rest of the north eastern states in attracting foreign tourists. There has been a dip in 2009 compared to 2008 but that that has not changed the ranking of the state.
The Ministry release suggests a review of restrictions pertaining to Restricted Area Permit (RAP)/Protected Area Permit (PAP) for tourists. It says that such relaxation is a continuous process and is undertaken by Ministry of Home Affairs on receipt of proposal from the concerned States in consultation with security agencies. Ministry of Home Affairs has conveyed relaxation of Protected Area Regime in the following circuits of Arunachal Pradesh & Sikkim:
(i) Along – Mechukha
(ii) Existing Pasighat – Jenging – Yiungkiong to be extended upto Tuting
(iii) Daporijo – Nacho Circuit via Taliha and Sayum
(iv) Ziro – Palin – Nyapin – Sangram – Kaloriang
(v) Doimukh – Sagalee – Pakke Kasang – Seppa
Powers were delegated to the Government of Arunachal Pradesh for issue of Protected Area Permit (PAP) in respect of the following:
(i) To visiting foreign tourists in a group of two or more persons (as against the existing requirement of group strength of four or more persons) for a maximum period of 30 days.
(ii) To a group of two foreign tourists even if they are not married couples and to foreigners married to Indian nationals belonging to the State of Arunachal Pradesh for visiting the State on tourist visas.
(i) To issue PAP/RAP to foreign tourists in a group of two or above with a recognized travel agent, who would act as an escort. However, existing restrictions on visit of foreigners to Rumtek Monastry and restrictions on movement of Tibetan Refugees need to be enforced.
(ii) To issue PAP/RAP to visiting foreign tourists (subject to (i) above) initially for a period of 30 days extendable to another spell of 30 days.
The powers to issue PAP/RAP to foreign tourists are also delegated to Tourism Information Officer posted at Tourist Information Centre (TIC) at Darjeeling (West Bengal) and Melli (Sikkim).
The data on domestic & foreign tourist visits to North-Eastern region for the years 2007 – 2009 is at Annexure. The data on foreign exchange earned by the States is not compiled in the Ministry of Tourism.
Domestic and Foreign Tourist Visits to North- Eastern States during the year 2007 to 2009
(Source: Marketing & Research Division, Ministry of Tourism)
Given Sikkim’s constant focus on promoting tourism, it is likely to continue its lead in the coming years.