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Tibet Upheaval Boosts Sikkim Tourism

May 13, 2008

The Statesman (India)
May 11, 2008

GANGTOK, May 11 -- The present disturbance in Tibet has greatly effected tourism trade there the Buddhist tourist destination in Sikkim are booming as an alternative.

Travel and tour operators in Tibet and Nepal are busy diverting their clients towards Sikkim as an alternative for Buddhist tourist destination. “We already made tourist booking for Tibet through Nepal last year only which we couldn't cancel once booked and planned so we thought of diverting our clients towards Sikkim as an alternative Buddhism tourist destination” Mr S Sherpa, a tour operator, said.

When asked why he chose Sikkim and not Bhutan, he said, the reason behind diverting our clients to Sikkim rather than to Bhutan is that Sikkim is cost effective and Bhutan is quite expensive for tourists. Moreover, Sikkim and Tibet shares similar tradition, culture, food, religion and language, almost everything.
“Our clients would basically be interested in visiting the monasteries in Tibet. We got the information that Sikkim too has old monasteries which are listed as heritage sites of India,” Mr Sherpa said.

When asked whether the tourists are being diverted because of the disturbances in Tibet, he said, no doubt Sikkim is beautiful and calm but till now Sikkim couldn't build its brand in international level like Tibet. “So it will take time when Sikkim would be counted among international tourist destination,” he added.

His counterpart in Sikkim, Mr Palzor Lachungpa, an advisor to Travel Agents Association of Sikkim (TAAS) received five groups from Nepal said, this is a right time to foster Sikkim into international level so I have designed the best itinerary with cheap rates as they are our guest first and tourist second. “This is also the time to get quality tourist who never bargain like. At the same we would provide them quality services with professional manner,” he added.

At present Sikkim has seven heritage monasteries to offer Buddhist tourist which are Ralang, Tashiding, Rumtek, Phodong, Pemayangtse, Tholung, Enchey and all are more 150 years old, located in East, West, South and North parts of Sikkim.
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