TAAS appeals to tourists to use organised sector in Sikkim

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Gangtok, May 28 (UNI) With the tourism inflow in Sikkim, especially in Gangtok, increasing by a phenomenal 40-50 per cent this April-May season, the Travel Agents Association of Sikkim (TAAS) today appealed to tourists to plan their holidays in advance through the organised sector.

''Please plan your holidays in advance through the organised sector if you are coming to Sikkim to avoid hotel and travel hassles,'' S K Pradhan, president of the TAAS, the apex body of travel and tourism agents in the state, said.

The TAAS's appeal comes at a time when Sikkim is reaping a rich harvest of tourists which started pouring in from April.

Most of the tourists usually start their holiday season from Gangtok, the capital city, resulting in hotels and taxis being booked out and causing overcharging and no accommodation on some occasions for tourists bypassing the tour agencies.

TAAS vice-president Karma Bhutia interpreted the booming season as Sikkim's tourism potential heading towards a more lucrative future.

The optimism among the tourism stakeholders had been triggered due to the upcoming Sikkim Tourism Trade Rules, a notification of which will be published shortly by the Sikkim government.

The Tourism Trade Rules seeks to regulate the tourism stakeholders, including hotels, agents and taxis, and weed out dubious and low quality service providers by issuing licenses to only those who meet the necessary requisites for being a quality service provider.

''Earlier, there were no rules to punish the tourism offenders but now every service provider will be responsible to take care of its clients once the rules are notified,'' TAAS treasurer Lokendra Rasaily said.

Only the licensed tourism service providers will be given permits to cater tourists to restricted areas of tourism interest, including Tsongmu Lake, Nathu La and North Sikkim.

The tour operators will benefit by having the legality to ask for service charges to the tourists.

''Everything will be regulated and there will be greater benefits for all,'' the TAAS president said.

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