New Delhi, Oct. 7 (ANI
): Sikkim will showcase iconic Mount Kanchendzonga and the Kanchendzonga National Park (KNP), which has recently been declared as a World Heritage Site, to promote eco-tourism in the Himalayan State, widely regarded as the Switzerland of the East, said Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling.
He said that the state government has formulated plans in association with the Indian Mountaineering Federation (IMF) to start circumambulation tours in the periphery of India's highest mountain peak -Mt Kanchenjunga (located at 28,169 feet (8,586 metres)). The peak is the guardian deity of Sikkim and is considered sacred by the Sikkimese people.
Chamling further said the state government aims to start 15 days' long trekking trails in the 1,784 km2 Kanchenjunga National Park (KNP) which has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO recently and is ?home to major mountain peaks, glaciers, lakes, waterfalls and? Unique flora and fauna.
He said the parikrama tour in the periphery of the world heritage site - KNP - will be promoted mainly during the summer season keeping in view the favorable climatic conditions in the area during these months for trekking, mountaineering and other adventure activities.
The Chief Minister said that the government will provide?highest level of professional support and logistics to nature lover enthusiasts during the parikrama tour through the State Tourism Department and registered tour and travel agencies. The fee structure for these activities is under finalization.
The Chief Minister informed that the state government?has launched ?a 15-minute helicopter service to witness breathtaking views of Mount Kanchenjunga from Gangtok, the State capital. The objective is to provide tourists with a magnificent view of the pristine peak, which assumes different colours during different hours of the day.
He said the helicopter service is mainly operational during the months of March to May and then from September to November, which are peak tourist months in the Himalayan State and added that the service is available around the year on demand.
Chamling informed that his government has recently opened 14 pristine peaks having height of below ?7,000 meters in North and West Sikkim with a view to promote nature and eco-tourism in the state and added that the government has identified about 15 places in the State from where the various peaks can be viewed. Construction of viewing decks and other allied facilities will be developed to promote these places.
The Chief Minister stated that Sikkim has become the most favoured destination among domestic and foreign tourists in last five years in the entire North East region and added that around 7.50 lakh domestic and international tourists visited the state during the year 2015 to have a glimpse of the major tourist attractions of the State, including its pristine peaks. The state has set a target to attract 15 lakh tourists per annum by the end of 2020, and to double the revenues from tourism at the end of this period, by strengthening the tourism infrastructure and other facilities of the state.
Around 60 percent of the total population is directly or indirectly connected with the tourism industry in the State, and are benefitted by new tourism projects that generate economic activity and returns.
The Sikkimese youth are being involved in the tourism sector through focused interventions in the form of capacity building/ skill development programmes, so as to provide trained manpower to the tourism sector.
Chamling said that Sikkim's first Greenfield Airport at Pakyong, being constructed on a 200 acre piece of land is likely to be operational in the year 2017 at a revised cost of Rs. 05.59 crore. The airport will provide direct air connectivity to the hill state and will be one of the five highest airports (altitude 4,700 feet) of the country.
He added that construction work on 45 km long railhead from Sevoke to Rangpo, to be constructed at a cost of Rs. 4,190 crore, is likely to start by the year 2017. The railway line will have 14 tunnels and 28 bridges. It will offer an exclusively picturesque and scenic journey while passing through the foothills of Kanchenjunga mountain range and Teesta river valley.
The statues of Cherenzi, Skywalk and Ropeway at Bhaleydhunga, stairway to Heaven at Daramdin are some of the other major projects to be completed by 2025. These projects, once completed, will position Sikkim as the foremost tourism destination of the entire South Asian region. (ANI