Gangtok, Oct.11 (ANI): Defined as a mystical kaleidoscope of nature's garden, Sikkim is increasingly fascinating tourists from different parts of the country and abroad.
According to the State tourism department, around 208,000 tourists visited Sikkim in the first five months of 2009, which was an increase of nearly 35 per cent over the previous year.
In a bid to attract tourists, Sikkim Government has declared the year 2010 as 'the Year of Tourism' and has lined up as many as 13 festivals to develop the tourism industry.
The Sikkim Government is also undertaking various steps to draw maximum international tourists.
The State Govt. is presently trying to promote tourism with Thailand through the commonality that exists in their cultures and traditions as both encompass the Buddhist heritage.
"At present not so many people in Thailand know about Sikkim. Mostly because its one of the remotest state in India, but I'm sure once the infrastructure is in place for example the airport, roads, I think more people from Thailand will come to Sikkim, especially people who are interested in Buddhism because most of the Thais and Sikimese are Buddhist. We have a number of Buddhist tourists coming to India every year. I think Sikkim would be another destination for them," said Parinthorn Apinyanunt, First Secretary, Royal Thai Embassy.
"Compared to last year this year's tourists inflow is good, even the bookings are also good. They prefer to come here for summer vacation which is not so in the past years. Since 1992 Sikkim has come as a main focus. The main attraction are its natural beauty, green forest, falls, rivers, streams, mountains, peaks and people love to see such things," said Deepak Kumar Rai, a local tour operator in Sikkim
During 2007-08, the Central Government sanctioned an amount of rupees 5.8 crores for Sikkim's tourism infrastructural projects.
In 2009, the Centre funded 12 projects as Centrally Sponsored Schemes from Ministry of Tourism with six projects for Border Area Development Programme (BADP).
The State government has also funded a tourism project.
"We like to visit places and we find Sikkim a very beautiful place very need, clean and lovely, very scenic. You can almost compare it with one of the city in Europe. The greenery is wonderful, cleanliness is good, and people too are nice. The city park that I saw in MG road was simply breath-taking," said Dastoor, a tourist from Mumbai.
Widely known for the grandeur of mountain peaks, lush valleys, adventure sports and various lively festivals, the northeast State of the country has plenty to offer to its visitors. By Tashi Pradhan (ANI)