Gangtok (Sikkim), Mar.2: The tourist-friendly Government of Sikkim has announced plans to attract more tourists to the iconic Mt. Kanchenjunga, the world’s third highest mountain.
Sikkim’s Tourism Minister Bhim Dhungel revealed that around eight lakh tourists see the five sacred peaks of Kanchenjunga annually, and now the state government aims to increase this tourist inflow to about 15 lakh annually in next five years.
As a first step, he said the state government has decided to strengthen tourism infrastructure in and around Kachenjunga, Rabong , Kaluk, Mangan and Pelling.
This would include setting up new home stay units, village resorts and a yatri niwas for accommodating visiting tourists. Dhungel said a target has been fixed to provide an additional 1,000 beds at these five places by the year 2020.
Dhungel also revealed that the state government has started a 15-minute helicopter service from Gangtok to provide breathtaking views of the majestic sacred peaks which change colour during different times of the day.
The helicopter services are available around the year on demand. Last year, 400 such flights were undertaken, and plans are afoot to increase to 1000 flights annually by 2019, mainly between the months of March and May, and between the months of September and November.
The 28,169-feet-high Kachenjunga can be viewed from every corner of Sikkim. It is considered a sacred mountain by natives of Sikkim, and regarded as the guardian deity of the Sikkim people.
The tourism sector is a key contributor to Sikkim’s economic growth, and can prove to be a game-changer for the state in the future.
Existing adventure tourists constitute about 70 per cent of the market.
In September, locals organize the annual Pang Lhabsol Festival to worship the five sacred peaks that represent the five repositories of God. The three-day festival is organized on the 15th day of the seventh month of the Tibetan calendar, which corresponds to the modern-day calendar period of late August to early September in Gangtok and Rabong.
The state government wants to promote this festival at a national level through a massive publicity campaign under the theme of religious tourism, said Dhungel.
Plans also include providing modern facilities at the base points of Kaluk, Tashi, Mangan and Pangthang, from where all 28 snow-capped peaks can be seen. Indian and foreign tourists will most certainly be able to fulfill their dreams of feeling the very strong power of nature through this promising initiative. (ANI)