Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Sikkim benefits from Everest trekking ban

GANGTOK, April 8: The current ban on scaling Mt. Eve-rest from Tibet and Nepal is proving a boon for mountain tourism in Sikkim. China froze expeditions to Mt. Everest after the crackdown in Lhasa, which has made Nepal divert trekkers to Sikkim as an alternative mo-untain tourism destination. “With no choice left we are diverting our clients to Sikkim for mountain expedition as the state has five peaks to offer to the mount-aineers,” Mr Pravath Prad-han an expedition organiser from Nepal said.
He further added: “International clients made their bookings a month ago in advance. Therefore, we cannot refuse them as they have already made their payments. Under the circumstances, Sikkim is the best alternative to offer to our clients.”
His counterpart in Sikkim Mr Barap Namgyal, secretary of Sikkim Amateur Mountaineering Association said they have received various bookings from Nepal especially for mountain expedition. “We are receiving a good number of clients from Nepal for mountain expedition. Recently four US trekkers scaled Mt. Jopuno and now we are aiming Mt. Thinkhang,” he added.
Sikkim is gradually developing into a major mo-untain tourism destination but it lacks in infrastructure. “We do not have any rescue operation system for mountaineers in our mountains as Nepal has. The state government will have to think of building such infrastructure to boost the sport in Sikkim,” said Mr Namgyal. He also urged for a flexible permit system in the state to make movement simpler for foreigners in the state.