Consult tourism stakeholders before announcing restrictions: USRTDA

Sagar Chettri

GANGTOK, 10 Jan: United Silk Route Tourism Development Association [USRTDA] has appealed to the State government to exempt local taxi and J series vehicles along with bikers coming from outside from the odd and even traffic rules implemented from today.

While welcoming the government’s decision to bansingle use plastic bottles in the State, the association has appealed to the government to immediately set up a facility to provide safe and clean drinking water in all public places for tourists and public.

USRTDA is an association of tourism stakeholders mainly from Rhenock, Chujachen and Gnathang- Machong constituencies, which includes taxi drivers, hotels, homestay owners, small shopkeepers, traders and travel agents from these areas.

Addressing a press conference here this afternoon, USRTDA member VivekRai mentioned that only Z series luxury vehicles have been exempted from odd and even rule, while almost 70% of tourists are travelling in local taxi and J series vehicles. He added that some J series vehicles with tourists are facing problems reaching their passengers to their destination due to this new rule. He added that travel agents, drivers and tourists have been facing huge losses due to cancellation of tours due to this rule.

He mentioned that Sikkim is now emerging as a popular destination for bikers and some who are already in the State are facing problems due to this sudden notification which has not exempted two-wheelers.

If the stakeholders were consulted before taking out the notification, then the situation could have been avoided, he stated.

He added that some of these bikers are also motovloggers with thousands of subscribers on social media platforms so any bad review or negative comment due to the present situation may send a bad message and create a negative effect on the state’s tourism sector.

MrRai said that the ban on single use plastic bottles is a positive and welcome step for a necessary and noble cause. However, he added that lack of requisite infrastructure to provide safe and clean drinking water in public places for tourists to access clean drinking water was a major concern and the most common complaint received by the stakeholders these days. On the same, he urged the government to resolve all issues at the earliest.

The manner in which new policies and notifications are being announced is affecting tourism related activities in the state, said MrRai.

On the same, he urged the government to take all tourism stakeholders into confidence while formulating new policies and notification. He expressed that new variants will come time and again but opening and shutting the tourism sector following new variants has been causing unbearable losses to stakeholders.

He also urged the government to set up an independent committee to study and survey the financial losses by stakeholders in the tourism sector and to provide a fair monetary compensation to stakeholders.

USRTDA spokesperson RoshanRai stated that stakeholders in the tourism sector in the State come under One Family One Entrepreneur policy of the State government, so if the state government consults tourism stakeholders at least a week in advance it would help stakeholders avoid huge losses.

On the same, he added that hotels stock up on large amounts of perishable goods for the tourism season and these are now getting spoiled. He also highlighted that hotels and homestays in high altitude areas have been facing extended power cuts during snowfall and bad weather which is not only hampering their business but also giving the state a bad image.

He also highlighted garbage problems in major tourist spots in these areas. On the same, he urged the government to take immediate action to resolve these issues in the interest of tourism stakeholders and tourists.

MrRai suggested that the government should set up a tourism office and MVI office at Rongli for the convenience of tourists coming to this part of the state. He also suggested that the state government hold talks with the West Bengal government to create hassle free passage for Sikkim tourist vehicles plying on the national highway.