Streamline public transport for tourists and locals

Gangtok, 07 Jun:

As tourism flourishes in the State and the number of visitors continues to rise, pressure on the infrastructure and basic amenities available in Sikkim also increases. Domestic tourist footfall in 2017 was 13, 75, 854, nearly double of 2016 when 7,40,763 domestic tourists visited the State. One of the areas that has felt the most pressure is the public transport system in the capital which basically means taxis, since bus services are not frequent or reliable. Like in the past few years, this year too, the onset of tourist season had locals scrambling for taxis.

"It happens every season and every season, the vehicle shortage is increasing despite new taxis coming on the roads every year. The number of tourists is increasing in a huge manner and getting enough taxis both for tourists and local people would be a huge problem in coming years," says Gopal Chettri, a travel agent.

Accompanying this shortage of taxis, are complaints about overcharging. While local taxi drivers maintain that they do not overcharge their passengers, there are frequent complaints from tourists. Overcharging is not limited to taxis, hotels too overcharge their clients during peak season.

Owner of The Nettle & Fern Hotel and Gangtok Groove, Naresh Raj Shrestha, says that hotels in Gangtok are running packed as of now and admits that some hotels do overcharge clients.

"This should be stopped and strict action should be taken against them," he adds.

Meanwhile, Tourism Secretary, CP Dhakal has requested tourists to file a complaint in writing so that the department can initiate action against those who take undue advantage of tourists.

According to the Tourism Department, Sikkim has received 2,48, 825 tourists till March this year with 2,22,459 being domestic tourists and 26,366 international tourists.