According to a PTI report, the economic slowdown across the world may hit the tourism industry in other parts of the country, but the tourism sector in the Himalayan state of Sikkim has risen by over ten per cent till last year, according to figure compiled by the tourism department. As per the release by state tourism department, the state received 3.87 lakh tourists in 2008 in comparison to 3.49 lakh tourists in the year before.
The number of visiting domestic tourists stood at 3.68 lakh last year as against 3.31 lakh in 2007, while the foreign tourists' intake last year was 19,154 as against the corresponding figure of 17,837. Sikkim, which has a favourable climate making people visit the state, has become a tourist destination round the year with even the rainy months of May and June luring about 20,000 tourists. The months of April and May have been booming period in terms of tourism-related business with about 70,000 visiting the state in each of these two months.
The tourist inflow from the foreign countries, mostly from Europe and America, have shown significant rise in the last quarter of 2007 with over 6,300 of them visiting the state, almost the same as the year before. The high number of arriving tourist has apparently belied the state government's concern about its tourism industry being hit badly due to the breakdown in the road network via NH 31A frequently due to political agitations in Darjeeling Hills or other natural calamities.
S B S Bhadauria, Tourism Secretary, Sikkim has set a target to make Sikkim a round-the-year tourist destination by development of infrastructure for promotion of the natural resources like hydel projects, socio-cultural life of the indigenous people, green ecology and religious structures throughout the state. “We expect at least ten lakh tourists to visit the state annually for which the hospitality sector is also expanding its accommodation and putting in place recreational activities like casino in the hotels,” said Bhadauria. Similarly, the tourism department has explored adventure sports like mountain biking, mountain climbing, water rafting and skiing facilities in partnership with private stakeholders to give further filip to the tourism industry in the state.