Gangtok, September 27 (IPR): World Tourism Day was celebrated at the conference hall of Tourism and Civil Aviation Department today, under the theme ‘Tourism and Green Investments’.
The chief guest, Shri BS Panth, Minister, Tourism and Civil Aviation Department, inaugurated the event in the presence of officers of the department and tourism stakeholders.
On his arrival, the Minister paid a visit to the stalls set up at the entrance of Paryatan Bhawan.
Addressing the event, Minister Shri BS Panth, extended his greetings on the occasion of World Tourism Day. He said that tourism has always been an influential force that connects people from various cultures, backgrounds, and viewpoints. It is a catalyst for economic growth, job creation, and sustainable development and has the power to bridge gaps, improve understanding, and promote peace among nations, he added.
The Minister emphasised the importance of safety, sustainability, and inclusivity in tourism practises and advised each individual to make sure that an ongoing dedication to the industry benefits everyone involved, from travellers to host communities.
“Let us embrace innovation, technology, and the digital revolution that has changed how we travel, allowing us to discover new places, book accommodations, and connect with fellow travellers with just a few clicks,” the Minister stated.
Further, the Minister recommended improving the travel experience while safeguarding the authenticity and cultural heritage of the state. He highlighted the role that education plays in promoting eco-awareness and responsible travel among students, teachers, and local communities and encouraged the next generation to cherish and protect the different cultures, traditions, and landscapes that give the world its unique character.
He mentioned that green investments in the tourism industry could be used to promote eco-friendly practises such as responsible waste management, energy conservation, and sustainable transportation, all of which can have a significant impact. He also suggested utilising renewable energy to lessen reliance on fossil fuels and promote a cleaner, greener Sikkim.
The Minister in his address also congratulated the Kitam Tourism Development Cooperative Society for winning the title of ‘Best Tourism Village of India 2023’ in the bronze category.
Shri Lukendra Rasaily, Chairman, Sikkim Tourism Development Corporation, in his speech, extended his gratitude to Chief Minister, Shri Prem Singh Tamang and Tourism Minister for their enduring commitment for the enhancement and development in the field of tourism.
The Chairman applauded the diligent effort of the tourism stakeholders in promoting sustainable and environment friendly tourism. He asserted that the tourism industry has been crucial in providing eco-opportunities for many locals and showcasing unique customs to the outside world.
Shri Rasaily also suggested the concept of promoting “Monsoon Tourism”, in which local festivals are widely celebrated, as well as working towards making Sikkim an all-year travel destination.
Shri ML Srivastava, Additional Chief Secretary, Tourism & Civil Aviation Department, said that Sikkim has seen a significant growth in tourist foot fall in recent years, and these numbers are only expected to grow significantly. Keeping this in mind, the department has been concentrating on a multi-faceted strategy to promote the State as an international tourist destination in the upcoming years, he said.
Likewise, he said that in order to meet the growing demand brought on by an unprecedented number of tourists and to enhance intrastate connections, the department has proposed establishing six (06) heliports within the State. Serious discussions are also taking place with the relevant State and Central Government authorities for the development of global connectivity under the International UDAAN scheme, he informed.
Further, he said that the department is also carrying out other central programmes, such as PIDDC (Product/Infrastructure Development for Destination and Circuits), PRASHAD (Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive), NEC, and others.
Earlier, Shri Prakash Chhetri, Secretary, Tourism and Civil Aviation Department, in his welcome address informed the august gathering that Kitam Village in South Sikkim has won the title of ‘Best Tourism Village of India 2023’ in the bronze category. Kitam was chosen to be one of the most outstanding nominees out of the 795 applications from the 31 states and Union Territories.
It is to be mentioned that Ms. V. Vidyavathi, IAS, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, GOI, presented the award to the representatives of Kitam Tourism Development Cooperative Society and the officials from the Tourism and Civil Aviation Department, Government of Sikkim, at a ceremony held at Bharat Mandapam in New Delhi today.
Shri Pintso Gyatso, General Secretary, Homestay Association of Sikkim, gave a PowerPoint presentation regarding the growing ecotourism in Sikkim. He underlined the need for sustainable investments that will benefit the environment, people, and economic growth.
Additionally, he stressed the significance of digital transformation and long-term goals for empowering young people and women in order to improve the skills of individuals who work in the hospitality and tourism sectors.
During the programme, Minister Shri BS Panth, and Ms. Kanchan Prasad, Additional Director General, Prasar Bharati, Delhi, launched “KHOJ” (Journey into the North-East), a Doordarshan travel series with 13 episodes focusing exclusively on Sikkim. Shri Ugyen Chopel, renowned filmmaker from Sikkim, directed the travelogue ‘KHOJ’. On the occasion, the Minister commended Shri Ugyen Chopel and every member of the crew for their dedication and hard work that culminated in the production of the travelogue ‘KHOJ’.
The celebration also included performances of cultural, traditional, and integration dances.
Likewise, the celebration comprised an audiovisual presentation produced by the Tourism Department showcasing an array of the states’ natural wonders, distinctive traditions, and rich cultural heritage.
The Tourism Department also honoured and presented letters of appreciation to the first tourist guide, trekking cook, Yak man, porter, senior most drivers, senior most travel agencies, tour operators, oldest hotels, cluster homestay, best adventure traveller, best tourist taxi driver, and best performing tourism student.
Likewise, the department acknowledged individuals as well as organisations that volunteered to assist in rescuing tourists who were stranded due to natural calamities in the State.
The programme also has the special presence of Shri Justice S.P. Wangdi, Former Judge, High Court of Sikkim.
Present among others were officials from Department of Tourism and Civil Aviation, diginatries from State and Central offices, members of the Travel Agent Association of Sikkim (TASS), Sikkim Association of Adventure Tour Operators (SAATO), Sikkim United Tourism Organisation (SUTO), Sikkim Hotel and Restaurant Associations (SHRA), Homestay Association Sikkim (HAS), All Sikkim Travel & Hospitality Association (ASTHA), ASHWA, All Sikkim Luxury Vehicle Association (ASLVA), Sikkim Tourist Guide Association (STGA), and Owner’s Run Hotel Association of Sikkim (ORHAS), senior officials from Army, GREF, and ITBP, representatives from the Institute of Hotel Management, Rumtek (IHM), Indian Himalayan Centre for Adventure & Ecotourism, Chemchey (IHCAE), Sikkim Tourism Development Corporation (STDC), awardees, and students.
The event concluded with the words of thanks proposed by Smt. Bandana Chettri, Additional Secretary, Tourism and Civil Aviation Department.