The tourism sector in Sikkim was hit hard last week following heavy snowfall in the eastern and northern parts of the state. Many bookings were cancelled, and hundreds of visitors were stranded due to disrupted road communication. However, with the clearance of the roads and the resumption of issuance of passes, tourist footfalls to the hot-spots in these regions are gradually picking up, according to a tourism official.
Despite the setback, popular tourist destinations such as Tsomgo Lake, Nathula pass, Baba Mandir in East Sikkim, and Gurudongmar Lake and Yumthang valley in the North have reopened. The tourism official also said that the issuance of passes to tourists for visiting Tsomgo Lake and Nathula pass has resumed, after being suspended for a few days due to weather conditions.
Last week, at least 900 tourists were stranded along the J N Road, which connects Gangtok with Tsomgo Lake and Nathula, after heavy snowfall disrupted road communication. They were sheltered in an army camp for a night and rescued the next morning. Similarly, the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) also rescued 175 tourists from different parts of North and East Sikkim on Saturday and brought them back safely to Gangtok.
"We expect snowfall during this time of the year. But this time, it was heavy," the tourism official said, adding that if such snowfall occurs again, it could further hit the sector. "We also advise tourists not to travel to the higher reaches for now as there is always a possibility of roads getting blocked due to snowfall," he said.
An Indian Army official in North Sikkim said the region continues to receive snowfall, but the army is ready if tourists are stranded again. As of now, no fresh reports of tourists getting stranded have been received.
Despite the challenges, Sikkim's tourism sector is showing signs of recovery. With the reopening of popular tourist spots and the resumption of issuance of passes, visitors are returning to the region to enjoy its natural beauty and unique culture.
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