Tourism Deptt announces final SOP for Sikkim TOurism Unlock 1.0

GANGTOK, 08 Oct: After a long gap, Sikkim is now ready to welcome tourists in the State from 10 August. The State Tourism & Civil Aviation Department has come up with the standard operating procedures [SOP]for the reopening of Sikkim Tourism. The department is ready with the final SOP, ‘Sikkim Tourism Unlock 1.0’ and it would be officially notified within this evening or tomorrow.

Speaking to media person this afternoon, STDC Chairman, Lukendra Rasaily mentioned that more than 3 lakhs of people in Sikkim were directly and indirectly connected to tourism sector in the State. He added that tourism was the only source for lakhs of the people in the State and has suffered lots without any income in around last nine months and has affected their livelihood. He mentioned that the tourism was also a main source for the State economy so the State government was very serious and concern on the reopening of the State tourism with proper guidelines.

He mentioned that it was the time to protect the tourism industry in the State as much people have been depending upon this sector for their livelihood.

Additional Chief Secretary Tourism & Civil Aviation Department, K Jayakumar mentioned that this whole initiative was the part to the transformative change in the tourism sector in the State. He added that the efforts have been made to make all operation and services digitally and online in this section and it would be released module by module.

He mentioned that restriction to tourists in some parts of the State by local bodies and panchayats was a matter of concern but the department has been appealing them to reconsider their decision as the entire State machinery was concern with the safety of the State and its people with the opening of the State tourism.

Likewise, Tourism & Civil Aviation Department Additional Secretary, Kapil Meena mentioned the department had conducted a series of meetings with the concerned stakeholders and organisations and officials of line departments and after thorough discussion and deliberation the department had came with the draft SOP. He mentioned that guidelines in the draft were again discussed with the stakeholders and was also discussed in the State Task Force meetings. He mentioned that again after thorough discussion and with some changes the final SOP was finalised yesterday during the meeting of the State Task Force.

He informed that the State Task Force for the reopening of the tourism in Sikkim was also formed on the direction of the Chief Minister, which has officials from all line departments of the State government. He informed that the State Task Force has already conducted few meetings regarding various issues on reopening of the State tourism. He mentioned that the State Task Force will also review and monitor the reopening of the tourism in the State and would make changes if required.

Speaking on guidelines in SOP, Mr Meena mentioned that earlier in the draft SOP it was mandatory for tourists visiting Sikkim to have a COVID negative certificate issued within 72 hours prior to date of arrival but now this has been made optional for visiting tourists. However, he added that SOP has advised to preferably posses a valid COVID negative certificate [RT-PCR/TrueNat] issued within 72 hours prior to date of arrival. He mentioned that it was compulsory for tourist to register in the Sikkim Tourism web portal before travelling to Sikkim to generate ‘Travel Card’. He added that the travel card will be needed to carry and furnish wherever required by tourists during their visit to Sikkim. He mentioned that all hotels and hotels need to pre-register with the Sikkim Tourism web portal. He informed that 75 travel cards have already been generated till yesterday by families/groups visiting Sikkim.

Additional Secretary mentioned that SOP has been classified into different sectors like accommodation, travel agents, transport and others. He added that stakeholders have also been suggested to make their own safety measures. He mentioned that hotels were suggested to have emergency isolation facility in case of any emergency, to display all emergency numbers and helpline numbers and do’s and don’ts for tourists. He added that there were guidelines for tourists’ sites, tourism guides and drivers and for trekking and paragliding.

He informed that there were also additional guidelines in the SOP like to have monitoring & enforcement teams, COVID care facility, COVID care vehicle, tourism information centres and control room.