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NABARD recommends tourism dev. for Sikkim
Gangtok, Jan 24:
Published on 25 Jan. 2010 12:35 AM IST
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NABARD regional office in Sikkim has recommended to the state government to enhance its infrastructure investments to support capital formation in certain sectors, reports UNI. The twin objectives are income generation for the state and employment generation for the people as the quantum of Ground Level Credit (GLC) has shown an increasing trend. The NABARD in its recently released State Focus Paper 2010-11 stated that the GLC flow has increased from Rs 12 crore in 1999-2000 to Rs 137.25 crore during 2008-09. While the quantum of GLC for agriculture and allied activities have increased from Rs 1.99 crore during 1997-98 to Rs 15.42 crore during 2008-09, its share in total GLC has declined from 19 per cent to 11 per cent during the same period. The focus paper recorded that during 2008-09, non-farm sector accounted for 17.6 per cent of the total GLC which was 13.2 per cent during 2007-08. Other priority sectors comprising mainly of housing, hotels and small road transport operators, which had registered growth till 2005-06, has seen a declining trend during 2006-07 and 2007-08 marked by a slight increase during 2008-09. ‘’It is also an indicator that credit growth in Sikkim is essentially boosted by tourism. However, keeping in view the declining trend in disbursement under housing sector, there is a need to re-allocate resources to primary and secondary sectors,’’ NABARD suggested. Advocating for the enhancement of infrastructural investments for income and employment generation, the focus paper has accorded great importance to the growing tourism sector of Sikkim for attaining the twin objectives. The paper has pegged annual tourism inflow to around 3.35 lakh, a figure which should be at the conservative estimate as the state had already touched 5 lakh tourism footfalls in 2009. The paper has assessed potential for annualised incremental turnover of business (services and business) to Rs 150 crore of which annual potential annual revenue for the state to Rs 50 crore and incremental per capita rural per annum to Rs 3,968. It is possible for the state to invest significantly in infrastructure development involving low cost funds from NABARD under RIDF, the paper suggested. The appeal of Sikkims landscape, its religious history and diversity of indigenous cultures make the state an important tourist destination of the country, the paper noted. Highlighting the vast scope of the state to play an important role in promoting Sikkim tourism, the NABARD focus paper recommended the state to formulate policy that will promote environmentally sustainable tourism. The paper had also advocated for beefing up the Sikkim Tourism Development Corporation (STDC) to function along the lines of similar organisations in Kerela, Himachal Pradesh and other states. The STDC should develop a strategy to market Sikkim as a must-see tourist destination and the first step would be to analyse the different segments and adopt promotion programmes for each segment, it said. The paper had also suggested a joint government-private promotion approach through professional advertising agencies and public relations companies to sell Sikkim in the domestic and foreign markets. The other initiative suggested by NABARD focus paper was to develop and promote special interest tourism such as cultural and religious heritage sites which has a special bearing for Buddhist visitors from East Asia, adventure tourism, flora and fauna (a rhododendron trail or valley of butterflies) and business tourism (as a location for conventions and conferences). The STDC could develop special interest tours and organise hotels, transport facilities so that they can be sold as a package to tourists, the paper suggested.

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