Sikkim tourism sector confused over corona virus travel restrictions

Published on : Thursday, March 12, 2020

In the midst of the Centre’s advisory to states asking them not to restrict entry of foreigners in the wake of corona virus scare, a Thimpu-based tour operator from Bhutan, Sangay Wangdi, has trekked all the way to Taktsang, a sacred Himalayan Buddhist site popularly known as the ‘Tiger’s Nest,’ and asked for ‘Guru Rimpoche’s (venerable teacher) blessings to control the spread of the virus.


The Government of Bhutan has restricted entry of tourists as a preventive measure against the virus following the country reporting its first case in an American traveller.


The American, who tested positive, is under inspection and undergoing treatment. He is getting better and will be leaving for his country once he recovers fully. On the other hand, North Bengal-based tour and travel operators, who have been working in the eastern Himalayan range, are still perplexed regarding the present situation although there are several advisories and orders issued from the central government’s tourism department.


“We are confused over the present situation and it is actually difficult to decide what to do now in the interest of the tourism industry,” said the general secretary of the Himalayan Hospitality and Tourism Development Network (HHTDN), Samrat Sanyal.


“At a time when the central government is asking the Sikkim government to not bar tourists, even the inbound ones, local authorities in Sikkim have been issuing orders to stop them,” Sanyal added.


The Rumtek Dharma Chakra Centre has restricted tourists, both foreign and domestic, from 8 March till 30 April. On the other hand, the department of culture, government of Sikkim, has said that the ‘Sky Walk’ in West Sikkim, a popular tourist spot, will remain closed till 31st March. The Sikkim government has circulated a Self Reporting Form for all travelers visiting Sikkim to get screened.


“This is a latest form just to screen travelers before entering Sikkim,” said Sandip Das, the president of the HHTDN.


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