Good response from foreign tourists in Khangchendzonga

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Soreng, May 04 (UNI) Carrying his haversack, 13-year-old Hungarian Sama Veszelouszki trekked along with many other tourists in the pristine meadows and teeming wildlife in Kangchendzonga to have an opportunity to see the world's highest peak.

A 33-member international expedition group from across the world, including Germany, Canada, Finland and Poland, came to Kangchendzonga for a month-long Khangchendzonga International Trekking Programme, that flagged off yesterday.

The programme was being organised by Sikkim tourism department to showcase the virgin natural wonders of Himalayas.

''I am looking forward to see the nature and lots of flowers,'' Roosa Rykonen, a student from Finland, told UNI here today.

''The landscape here is different from Germany and I want to see the nature and the varieties of biodiversity,'' said another excited tourist Jorg Schmitt, a software engineer from Germany.

Schmitt, who is touring different parts of India since months, was lured to this expedition by a couple of foreign tourists at New Jalpaiguri railway station in West Bengal.

''They told me about this expedition and said that I should go to Sikkim if I want to really walk with nature, '' said Schmitt.

''The nature here is very beautiful and people are very hospitable and always smiling,'' said another Betty Meerbeek from Holland before trooping off with the other participants on Saturday.

Tourism department Secretary V R Subba informed that they would be sending around 300 tourists to the exclusive trekking itinerary.

''We are offering this programme at 90 per cent subsidized rate,'' Mr Subba said. This subsidized rate comes down to Rs 2500 only or 65 US dollars for each as registration fees.

''The usual going rate charged by tour operators for a ten day Singalila odyssey is Rs 15,000 for each and there has to be minimum two tourists for the trek,'' he said adding that it would take ten days to complete the circuit from Soreng after trudging along Utterary, Barsey and Hee Bermoik.

The programme is aimed at promoting some of the most exciting yet undiscovered adventure areas in West Sikkim and promote Sikkim as an ideal eco-tourism destination in the Himalayas, he said.

UNI BG PP AB 1356

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