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Village Tourism: a mission of Sikkim government

Village tourism

“Tourism has tremendous income and employment ripple affects that spread far beyond the actual tourism activity itself, so that benefits disburse quite naturally to owners of small shops, peripheral services, and even to construction, banking and handicrafts. If tourism contribution is increase to 10 per cent of GDP in India, it can create 26 million new jobs.”(North eastern Region Vision 2020, ministry of development of North Eastern region, sectoral strategies for the region-Vol. II, page-127)

Evidently, envisaging the prospect of tourism in the State, Chief Minister Pawan Chamling some month back, in his address, said the State government would promote village tourism in all 166 gram panchayat units of the State to make the State prosperous and self reliant. Underlining the chief minister’s initiative on 21 to 23rd December a winter village tourism fest was organized at Asamlingzey by six gram panchayat units of 25, Assamlingzey along with some local NGOs.

The three day festival organized at Assamlingzey Senior Secondary School had included varieties of programme: felicitation to local gentries above 80 year of the village, educational fair cum conference and musical night by renowned rock singer and singers from Kathmandoo.
There were 29 stalls put up by locals, government department and NGOs. One of the impressive stalls was traditional huts of Nepali, Lepcha and Bhutia built up in the venue where traditional breweries of millets Tongba, Tinpaney, Chang, Nigar and Food items like Sekuwas, Sel Roti, Tarul were served to customers inside the hut. The customers were not only enjoying traditional foods but also traditional environment. They were given Radhi( a blanket made of sheep’s wool) to sit there while having the foods and drinks.

Though, it was first time organized in the village such fest, there was huge gathering of locals as well as outsiders.

According to Mr.Himmat Rai, publicity secretary of the organization, the three day tourism fest was organized not only to promote the tourism but the programme was used as platform to discuss on various burning topics like terrorism, quality education in the State and many other subjects and the experts in the respective fields were also invited to discuss on the subject.

Apart from Assamlingzey, in Sikkim there are more than 10 villages where such village fests are organized in grand manner to woo domestic and foreign tourists.

According to Mrs. Prava Rai, joint secretary (Public relation and publicity) of tourism department Kanchendzong festival of Pelling, Namchi Mahotsav, Mangan musical festival, Gangtok winter fest, Ravangla discover, winter fest of Darap are organized by local organization and villagers every year.

These festivals will help promote village tourism. For the purpose, state tourism department also supports the organizers by giving some funds. ”Last years we had given Rs.30 lakh to six tourism festival of Mangan, Ravangla, Namchi, Jorethang, Hee-burmiok and Aritar. We will increase the budget of the programme according to the performance of the programme and numbers,” Mrs.Rai said.

Earlier, generally, March and October used to be tourist season in the state. But for the last two years, tourist season has become round the year affair in the State. The reason is there are many programmes like winter village tourism fests organized in many villages in winter to woo tourists and that has resulted in good footfall of tourists in the State.

“We are trying to put the concept in the mind of tourists that there are season round the year in the State by organizing many tourist festival, inventing innovative events like mountain biking, Skiing, trekking and others in winter which was earlier called lean period of the tourism business in the State, “Mr. Palzor Lachungpa , president of Travel Agent Association of Sikkim(TAAS), the largest organization of the State which has 269 members, said.

He also said last year TAAS had organized Skiing sports in Yumthang, North Sikkim. This year also they have a plan to organize Skiing in Kupup , near Nathula border and Yumathang.

Besides Skiing, the department is also promoting adventure tourism like mountain biking, white water rafting and trekking. 1st Kanchundzonga International Mountain biking expedition was organized by the tourism department last year. “It was first mountain biking expedition organized in the country. The expedition was successful so much so that this year’s 2nd Expedition of the competition got already booked by the participants of national and international countries before three month of its beginning no sooner we announced it, said Mr. B.R.Subba, joint secretary of the department.

According to vision document of North East Region Vision 2020, Sikkim is far ahead of the North Eastern States in terms of the number of tourists arrivals.

The document further explains field visitors by the research team also indicated that Sikkim is far ahead of the other states in terms of infrastructure and preparedness for the tourists. This is probably due to the lack of any history of insurgency in the State.
The educated locals, therefore, has the right time to make most of it from tourism by actively involving in the different programmes related to tourism organized by government.

*(The writer is an editor of himalyanreporter.com)
Published: 2009-01-04
Author: D.B.Rai 'anoop'

About the author or the publisher
I am post graduate in journalism and mass communication, working as freelance journalist and editor of himalayanreporter.com, newsportal.
www.himalayanreporter.com

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