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Wednesday, Sep 16, 2020 13:00 [IST]

Last Update: Wednesday, Sep 16, 2020 07:43 [IST]

A little support could work wonders here

Sudiptachanda
Extraordinary situations demand extraordinary solutions. The opportunity to display one is at hand.
The question is would the policy makers respond?
That the COVID-19 situation is taking toll on every aspect of life and livelihood is now a reality.
By when the world would succeed in freeing itself of these uncertainties is anybody’s guess.
But, life has to go on and so must economic activities, watchfully though, for there is no scope to err even on the side of caution in these troubled times.
Talking of economic activities, it is common knowledge that tourism is the alternative economy this side of the Ganga.
Coronavirus has wreaked havoc on that sector worldwide. And when remote areas like north Bengal and Sikkim are impacted by such pandemic, it gives that alternate economy a serious fright.
One tourism season has already gone down the drain – all the investment towards infrastructure development, manpower, daily running costs have gone up in smoke.
What is more, the expenses are accruing in reverse proportion to income.
And now another tourism season is in the offing. How would it unfold is a million rupee question at this point.
But, efforts are on at individual levels to ensure not all is lost this time. All, however, would depend on tourist inflow.
If they come, the game is on. Those associated with tourism and hospitality are confident they can meet the challenge of giving tourists a value for money.
And this is exactly where the policy makers have a role to play to guarantee tourist footfall in this region during the festival season that continues from autumn through winter.
The Uttarakhand government, another state heavily dependent on tourism, has come up with a novel idea in similar circumstances.
To give tourism a chance in these unnatural times, the Uttarakhand government has decided to gift discount coupons to tourists who check in to hotels and homestays across the Himalayan state.
The pilot project comes with a Rs1,000 ‘Tourist Incentive Coupon’ for tourist accommodation. Tourists registering on the government portal under tourist category would be entitled to the gift.
There are other examples from different corners of the world to illustrate how governments have risen to the task to encourage tourism.
Sicily, for instance, offered to fund part of the travel, Cancun in Mexico has been offering free stays and London was offering deep discount to diners to revive the restaurant sector.
This region inclusive of the Darjeeling hills, Terai, Dooars and Sikkim offer natural winners by the bagful.
Thousands of youth of this region have taken up tourism and hospitality as an economic activity releasing the policy makers of their constitutional responsibility to provide the youth employment.
The Uttarakhand model is the least the policy makers can now adopt to stand by this young brigade of entrepreneurs.
The question is, will they?

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi