Sikkim beckons tourists with winter carnival

New Delhi, Dec 15 : Sikkim, a mystical wonderland of spectacular natural bounty, will organise a winter carnival Dec 22-24 to mark Christmas and New Year celebrations and to continue to attract the ever increasing number of visitors to this mountainous border state.

Sikkim's Tourism Minister Bhim Dhungel said the state government has spent around Rs.1 crore to organise the event, being held in collaboration with the union government's Incredible India campaign. Various tourism and travel associations are also supporting the carnival.

"This year, the focus of the winter carnival will be on promoting traditional culture, cuisine and organic products," Dhungel told IANS here, adding that the beauty of the state's mountains and its ancient Tibetan Buddhist culture will be showcased.

In recent times, the state - which is one of India's smallest states with a population of just over 500,000 people - has been seeing a sharp rise in tourist inflow. The state government estimates that about a million tourists are expected to visit Sikkim during 2013, an increase from the seven lakh visitors of last year.

The state government is also trying to attract tourists through other activities such as adventure sports, traditional handicrafts, horticulture, floriculture and organic products.

The state government targets a revenue collection of Rs.1,500 crore per annum by 2020, by attracting 100,000 international tourists and two million domestic visitors.

Currently, domestic tourists from West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra have been flocking to the hill state. International tourists have been arriving from Japan, Europe and England.

Apart from the ancient culture of the state, this year visitors will also get a chance to experience unique music performances by prominent local artistes. Tourists will also be able to taste the gastronomic delights of Sikkim, prepared by local chefs.

The state government said hotels and restaurants have made special arrangements for vegetarians and are geared to meet the dietary needs of guests.

--IANS (Posted on 15-12-2013)

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