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TAAS demands MoT to declare Bagdogra as a SAARC airport
Published on 8 Dec. 2009 11:59 PM IST
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The apex body of tour operators Travel Agents Association of Sikkim (TAAS) here has urged the Ministry of Tourism (MoT) for support to develop skiing infrastructure in the higher altitudes of East and North districts. According to a UNI report, in a representation submitted to Union Tourism Minister Kumari Selja, during her three day trip to Sikkim which concluded yesterday, TAAS informed that the body has successfully introduced skiing sports in North Sikkim to promote winter tourism since the last two years. A delegation of TAAS led by president Pajlor Lachungpa along with General Secretary Lukendra Rasaily, vice-president Sailesh Pradhan and joint secretary Arun Bhagat had called on the visiting Union Minister on December 5 evening here at Gangtok. Informing the Union Minister of the successful introduction of skiing sports in North Sikkim, the TAAS pointed out that it has some constraints in acquiring the good quality equipments and also development of slopes, ski-lifts, huts and other amenities. ‘’As such infrastructure is essential to promote and conduct high quality winter sports, we would be grateful if the Ministry could grant funds to create necessary infrastructure especially in Yumthang area in North Sikkim and Kupup in East Sikkim,’’ TAAS said. It also expressed its readiness to submit a detailed project report on the subject. Similarly, TAAS also took up the issue for declaration of Bagdogra airport as a SAARC airport. The Druk Air of Royal Bhutan Airlines has been presently allowed to fly international flights between Paro in Bhutan, Bagdogra in Siliguri and Bangkok in Thailand. The TAAS reiterated that the Bagdogra airport to be declared as an international airport or at least as SAARC airport as the airport can cater to the international clients. ‘’While doing the verbal inquires as far as demands and supply trends are concerned, our counterparts and people in general have found there a tremendous customer support base,’’ said TAAS. The Union government has placed floriculture as an export oriented business for the region and such initiative to upgrade Bagdogra airport as SAARC airport will definitely invite prompt deliveries of the products globally. The TAAS also requested the Union Minister for extension of Restricted and Protected Area Permit in North Sikkim for 5 days to 20 days. As of now, foreign tourists are allowed to be in North Sikkim beyond Toong checkpost for five days only, which is not enough for them to enjoy all the tourist spots that the Union government has opened in recent past, TAAS said. It requested the Union Minister to take up this matter with the Ministry of Home Affairs to have the permitted number of days from 5 to 20 days. The body also requested to open Gurudongmar Lake in North Sikkim for foreign tourists. ‘’As this destination, Gurudongmar Lake is highly potential with its natural beauty; there is a high demand even from foreign tourists visiting Sikkim and they too intend to visit this pristine lake but unfortunately they have to go back with disappointment for not having been able to visit there,’’ it said. The TAAS requested for allowing foreign tourists to visit Gurudongmar lake through the guided tour organised by the travel agents or tour operators who are registered with the State Tourism department for the safety and security of clients as well as of the nation.

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