Sikkim, Nepal join hands with Sikkim for tourism

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Gangtok, Feb 3 (UNI) The stakeholders from the two premier tourist destinations of the Himalayan belt -- Pokhara in Nepal and Sikkim -- have inked a deal to promote tourism.

''The stakeholders must work shoulder to shoulder in evolving a regional tourism concept for the Eastern Himalayan belt,'' Travel Agents Association of Sikkim (TAAS) treasurer Lukhendra Rasaily said at a Tour and Travels exchange programme here today.

The need was stressed in the wake of stiff competition from other mountainous tourist spots across the world.

''This combined thrust will not only help in windfall of tourism but also ensure that benefits percolate down to the masses,'' Mr Rasaily told to his counterparts from Nepal Association of Tour and Travel Agents (NATTA).

A 27-member team from the Pokhara chapter of NATTA is currently on two-day visit to Sikkim to showcase the rich tourism products of the Nepal.

Mr Rasaily also called upon both the stakeholders to promote Sikkim and Nepal in their own channels like websites and brochures.

''TAAS should work on disseminating proper information about Nepal and must divert its clients towards Nepal allaying the client's image of a disrupted nation,'' he said.

On the current situation in Nepal, NATTA president Pashupati Sharma said the country has never witnessed the peace as it is now, and tourism is being restored back to its earlier glory.

However, he admitted that the trouble in some parts of the plain areas would be sorted out once the general elections are over.

At least five lakh tourists visited Nepal past year, of which 33 per cent were Indians. It is this traffic that Sikkim tourism stakeholders are targetting and TAAS requested NATTA to divert some of them and the Nepalese citizens to Sikkim also.

Hari Prasad Sharma, NATTA coordinator, supplemented the TAAS's proposal and said there must be steady exchanges between Sikkim and Pokhara to boost up the relationships.

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