Sikkim is heavily reliant on its tourism industry for its economy. However, it has suffered a major blow due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with a 50 per cent drop in visitors since before the outbreak. According to data, the months of April, May, and June have seen a sharp decline in tourism, resulting in a significant loss of income for the state.
Many hoteliers in Gangtok, the capital city, have reported a decrease in tourists and pre-bookings over the past six months. The Sikkim Hotel and Restaurant Association, the apex hoteliers association, has also received feedback that bookings and tourist footfall have decreased by at least 20 to 40 per cent.
Shradha Sharma, the President of Sikkim Hotel and Restaurant Association, acknowledged that Gangtok-based hotels have received fewer tourists in the last two seasons. "This time from last October, November and December tourist season also many Gangtok based hotels have received less tourist and now this current season that is from March till May there were not such footfall Gangtok have received that may be the case with the Gangtok only but there is a decline in 20 to 40 percent of tourists footfall," she said.
Lukendra Rasaily, Chairman of Sikkim Tourism Development Corporation (STDC), provided a different perspective. "The tourist footfall has increased if we go by our data, and it has increased yes. But this time the pattern has changed normally tourist footfall remained Gangtok-based, but now under the new leadership of SKM-led government, more tourists are visiting rural parts, so we have data that Sikkim has received more tourists than in previous years," he said.
According to the STDC, Sikkim has received 366,980 tourists in the last three months, which is higher than the previous year's 308,130. Rasaily believes that the state's efforts to promote tourism in rural areas, along with an increase in homestays and hotels, have contributed to the growth in tourist footfall. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, there is hope for Sikkim's tourism industry to bounce back in the near future.
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