Bangladeshis discover Sikkim

Foreign tourist figures double in 2019

GANGTOK, 28 Jan:

What could have ended a lacklustre tourist season,appears to have been salvaged by Bangladeshi tourists who not only made up the majority of foreign visitors to Sikkim in 2019 but also doubled the number of foreign visitors to the state.

60,542 Bangladeshis visited Sikkim in 2019 making up nearly half of the 1.33 lakh foreign tourists Sikkim hosted last year.

In 2018, the total number of foreign tourists was 65,020.

This comes afterthe Centre lifted restrictions on Bangladeshis visiting Sikkim and some other Indian states on 21 Nov, 2018.

“Since Bangladeshi tourists have been allowed to visit Sikkim, they have overtaken tourists from Nepal. Since 2014, Nepal had been the leader among foreign visitors,” said Deputy Director for Tourism department, MikmeTasho.

Sikkim received 56,781 Nepalese tourists in 2019. The previous year, 2018, at 55,946 Nepalese tourists were the leaders among the 71,172 foreign tourists who visited Sikkim.

Mr Tasho also said that the tourist volume last year was good but did not meet expectations.

When it comes to domestic tourists, figures were only available from Jan-Sept 2019 and in these nine months Sikkim received 11,964,68 domestic tourists. In 2018, Sikkim received around 14 lakh domestic tourists.

The data is compiled from the checkposts on quarterly basis and figures for the last three months of 2019 will probably come in February, said Tourism department joint secretary Bandana Chettri.