Travel And Tour World – How do you see the growth of Sikkim Tourism as compared to the other North East States in India?
Shri Pawan Kumar Chamling:
Tourism is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. The dynamic growth of this industry is evident from the fact that globally tourism accounts for more than 11% of the global GDP and 8% of the world trade employment. Nature has bestowed Sikkim with unique beauty, splendor with its lush green and undisturbed valleys, five climatic zones, peaceful, total sanitation, environment friendly, hospitable & smiling people and a rich cultural heritage —which is unparallel and would be hard put to create and find anywhere else. The most peaceful and crime free in the lap of Himalayas, “The land of Peace & Tranquility” Sikkim itself become its natural and unique USP with global appeal.
In past years, Sikkim has become one of most sought after Tourists destination. Tourism is an important sector for the prosperity of the Nation and the State.
Having realized “Tourism” as a major engine of economic growth, employment generator & poverty alleviator, the State Government has endorsed this sector as the main civil industry of the State. Hence, improvements of the efficiency of the industry for enhance social & economic benefits and consequential increased economic benefits, including increased employment generation. Year 2010 was declared as Year of Tourism”. Year 2014 was declared as “must visit tourist destination” by Lonely Planet.
Travel And Tour World – How is Sikkim Tourism promoting itself in the global travel scenario?
Shri Ugen T. Gyatso: Participation at various domestic and International Fairs and Festivals has been a great move by the Sikkim Tourism to promote itself in the global travel scenario. Some of the publicity events levels like, International Flori Show, International Mountain Biking Competition, International Trekking. At the same time, Sikkim Tourism has taken adequate steps towards marketing and publicity of the steps as well as of the newly created infrastructure and attractions. Sikkim has been regularly participating in all leading domestic tourism fairs and festivals as well as prominent international fairs, like WTM London and ITB Berlin. In addition Sikkim Tourism has been releasing advertisement and articles featuring various aspects of the State in the leading travel and tourism magazines of the country. Sikkim Tourism has also published large number of brochures, posters, coffee table books and other publicity materials for distribution through its offices both in Sikkim and outside for information and publicity.
Travel And Tour World: Increase in international visitors is a major cause for development in the local industries. How is Sikkim benefited by foreign visitors?
Shri Ugen T. Gyatso:
Tourism has become a popular global leisure activity. Tourism can be domestic or international and international visitors have both incoming and outgoing implications on a State’s economy. Since tourism has been a major source of income for Sikkim and thereby influencing the economy of both the source and host countries. The foreign visitors help bring in a large amount foreign exchange into the local economy as well as large amounts of income in the form of payment for goods and services needed by the tourists. It also creates opportunities for employment in the service sector of the economy associated with tourism. The service industries have also been benefited include transportation services, such as luxury taxicabs; hospitality services, such as accommodations, including hotels and resorts; and entertainment venues, such as amusement parks, casinos, shopping centres, music venues, and theatres. This is in addition to goods bought by these foreign tourists, including souvenirs, clothing and other supplies.
Travel And Tour World: Do you think a development in the air connectivity will enhance tourism and consequently the local industries?
Shri Pawan Kumar Chamling :
Considering the rough terrain of Sikkim, the territory of Sikkim had been devoid of airport so far. At present, the Bagdogra airport in West Bengal is the nearest airport to Sikkim even though regular helicopter services by Sikkim Tourism Development Corporation is being operated from Bagdogra to Gangtok (Sikkim) on a daily basis. It is no denying that with the opening of airfield in Pakyong, Sikkim would greatly benefit the tourism economy of the State. Air connection for tourism purposes also builds social and business connectivity for local residents and traders. It also means local aviation partners can help build quality long-term jobs for residents. The upcoming Greenfield airport in Pakyong (East Sikkim) would provide a base for developing skills to the local population across a wide range of aviation and tourism related activities.
Travel And Tour World: What are the major steps taken by the Ministry of Tourism in Sikkim to allure International visitors?
Shri Ugen T. Gyatso:
There are a number of activities which are conducted by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India in order to promote the entire North-eastern States including Sikkim as a whole. As we know that Sikkim is a prime part of the North East India being the only one brother among the rest of Seven Sisters. Therefore it won’t be fair to say that the Ministry of Tourism has only been bias in promoting tourism in Sikkim alone as the MOT has taken ever possible measures to ensure that their promotional strategies benefit the entire north eastern states. Citing example of the recent 4h International Travel Mart which was held in Shillong (Meghalaya) was a tremendous move of the MOT to capture International tourists into these north eastern States. As the MOT also deputed many international travel writers, journalists, renowned tour operators on a Familiarization tour to the entire N.E. States including Sikkim as well.
Travel And Tour World: What are the major source markets for Sikkim Tourism?
Shri D. N. Sherpa:
The major source markets for Sikkim Tourism have been the dedicated and painstaking tourism stakeholders of Sikkim likewise, Travel agencies, tour operators, hoteliers and so on that have played an important role in promoting tourism in the State. The State Tourism Department has equally been contributive in development of tourism infrastructure all around the State and formulation of policies. The participation of the State Tourism in various tourism & travel fair and festivals within and outside the country have also helped capture source markets. The advertisement and promotional initiatives by the department in leading newspapers, magazines and TV channels etc across the nation and abroad have also boosted tourism towards a great extent.
Travel And Tour World: Would you like to share some of the target source markets that will prove fruitful in the next five years?
Shri D. N. Sherpa:
Some of the target source markets which would prove fruitful in the next five years would include some of the world renowned hotel management companies which are planning to venture their businesses in Sikkim, some of the reputed travel companies which have established already and some of which are underway, the Greenfield airport in Pakyong and so on.
Travel And Tour World: What is your opinion about the latest trend of digital marketing and social media campaigns?
Shri Pawan Kumar Chamling:
The digital marketing and social media marketing has been one of the modern processes for achieving web traffic and attention through social media sites. The social media marketing programs undertaken by the tourism department along with relates tourism agencies and stakeholders have usually centered their efforts to create content to attract the attention and encouraged readers to share it amongst their social networks. The resulting electronic word of mouth (eWoM) by means of extensive usage of internet (such as, websites, social networks, instant messages, news feeds etc) about certain events held or going to be held in the State, Services, brand or company has always helped Sikkim Tourism in gaining business to a great extent.
Travel And Tour World: Would you like to brief your experience about Sikkim’s presence in the World Travel market?
Shri D. N. Sherpa:
Attending to the World Travel Market 2014 at ExCel, London was a unique opportunity for us. We had the privilege to meet, network, negotiate and conduct business with the global travel trade industry. By attending the World Travel Market, Sikkim efficiently, effectively and productively gained immediate competitive advantage of travel business and to stay abreast with the latest developments in the world travel industry.