Sikkim’s adventure tourism faces setback owing to Nepal earthquake

Adventure hotspot Himalayan state Sikkim apprehends large-scale downfall in its tourist inflow following devastating series of earthquakes in adjoining Nepal.

With seven out of 25 national projects in Adventure Tourism under Central Financial Assistance (CFA), Sikkim is the largest beneficiary state of GoI’s Special Interest tourism promotion initiative.

These include three heliports and three destination development projects. But, “These are not likely to yield much this time owing to mass fear psychosis following Nepal earthquake,” said Sikkim tour operators. Many of them have already started facing large scale booking cancellations.

“Domestic tourism inflow to Sikkim touched down the floor with over 90% cancellations immediately after October 2011 earthquake though foreign tourist arrival continued with higher than normal rate,” senior tour operator from Sikkim P Lachungpa said earlier.

But eastern Himalayan tourism arena does not expect the picture to be the same this time. Due to much larger scale of devastation and frequent repetition of the tremors with 2015 Nepal Earthquake. Many countries have issued unfavourable tourism advice.

“These will influence inflow of foreign tourists to all Indian Himalayan destinations too including Sikkim during this summer season. With its usual peak in mid May, Summer contributes around 60% to our annual business,” said Mr. Partha Guha, Secretary of Eastern Himalayan Tour and Travel Operator’s Association of India.

“Adventure tourism is one of the fastest growing sector in global tourism arena, and Sikkim has tremendous potential in it. It took a major effort of all to bring it back to pace after 2011 earthquake. But repetition of that within four years will be tough to handle,” said veteran travel advisor Mr. Raj Basu.

As estimated, annually entire Himalayan region, receives over 11 lakh domestic and around 2.5 lakh foreign tourists to generate a business volume worth around 400 crore. “Out of this, at least 70% of the adventure tour enthusiasts prefer tagging up Nepal, with other adjacent Indian Himalayan destinations to optimize time, convenience and expenses. Hence, with Nepal under disturbance now, flow of this group to Indian destinations also has come under question,” he explained.

Beside 82% forest cover, Sikkim has its 3% area under glaciers while its 14% land remains snow clad round the year making the state one of the world’s most liked adventure tourism hotspots. ( ET Bureau)

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