Heavy snowfall impacts Sikkim tourism, stranded tourists rescued

 Wednesday, March 22, 2023 


Severe snowfall in the eastern and northern regions of Sikkim has stranded many tourists and adversely impacted the tourism sector last week as several bookings were cancelled, PTI news agency cited as per the statement of an official.

But, with the clearing of the roads and the resumption of permit issue, tourist footfalls to these areas’ hotspots are steadily increasing, he added.

Tsomgo Lake, Nathula pass, and Baba Mandir in East Sikkim, and Gurudongmar Lake and Yumthang valley in the north, were blocked off from the state capital for the better part of a week.

As heavy snowfall hampered road connectivity, at least 900 tourists were trapped along the J N Road, which connects Gangtok with Tsomgo Lake and Nathula.

They were rescued the next morning after spending the night in an army camp. Similarly, on Saturday, the BRO (Border Roads Organisation) rescued 175 tourists from various sections of North and East Sikkim and returned them safely to Gangtok.

According to a tourism official, the issue of passes to travellers for visiting Tsomgo Lake and Nathula pass was temporarily halted owing to weather conditions, but has since resumed.

“Many tourists were stranded, so we had stopped issuing passes for three days. But now, roads are open and we have resumed issuing passes. We expect snowfall during this time of the year. But this time, it was heavy,” he said.

Due to severe snowfall last week, several tourists had to cancel their trips to Tsomgo Lake and Nathula.
“We also advice tourists not to travel to the higher reaches for now as there is always a possibility of roads getting blocked due to snowfall,” he said, adding, however, the destinations are open as of now.

“No fresh reports of tourists getting stranded have been received so far. However, the machinery is prepared if that happens,” he said.

An Indian Army official in North Sikkim said the region continues to receive snowfall but the army is ready if tourists are stranded again.

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