Monday, 30th October 2017

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Coronavirus restrictions hit tourism in Sikkim and Bengal

The Sikkim govt has already barred the entry of foreign tourists to the state to tackle the pathogen

By Rajeev Ravidas in Gangtok
  • Published 13.03.20, 3:36 AM
  • Updated 13.03.20, 3:36 AM
  • a min read
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Lachung after a snowfall. File picture

Local administrations at Lachen and Lachung — two favourite destinations in North Sikkim district — have barred entry of tourists and labourers from outside the state in view of the threat posed by the coronavirus.

The decisions were taken by Dzumsas, which is a traditional system of local self-governance recognised by the Sikkim government.

“The Lachung Dzumsa passed a resolution on March 12 to stop tourists and workers from other states from entering Lachung till April 15,” said Yanku Tashi Lachungpa, one of the pipons or the headmen of the Lachung Dzumsa, citing the corona pandemic.

The Dzumsa has also requested the north district administration not to issue work permits to outsiders till April 15.

“We have taken this decision after consulting the people. This is a preventive measure for a limited period to ensure the safety of our people,” said Yangkuk Tshering Lachungpa, another pipon of the Lachung Dzumsa.

The neighbouring Lachen Dzumsa has also come up with a similar decision.

A release issued by Kunthup D. Lachenpa, the pipon, on Thursday said the Dzumsa, along with the local hotel association and some other stakeholders, had decided “to stop the entry of tourists from other states of the country to Lachen with immediate effect”. The entry ban will be in place till further notice.

The Sikkim government has already barred the entry of foreign tourists to the state to tackle the pathogen. All these restrictions are certain to have an impact on tourism.

“It is obvious the coronavirus will have a massive impact on tourism this year. However, the decisions of the state government and the Dzumsas are understandable. Public health should always come first,” said a tour operator.

The Sikkim government has also decided to postpone the Red Panda Tourism Carnival, the cultural extravaganza hosted annually to promote the state.

The fest was to be held in the middle of April at Soreng-Chakung in West Sikkim. Aditya Tamang, the local MLA, said the event had been postponed for coronavirus.

“The fest would be held after the virus infection subsides,” said a source.

Additional reporting by Avijit Sinha in Siliguri