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Gangtok: Describing Sikkim as a veritable paradise and a tourist destination for all seasons, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) asked the State government to formulate a tourism policy and a comprehensive plan for development of the sector.
“The State government should formulate its tourism policy on the lines of the national policy outlining a comprehensive action plan for better connectivity and infrastructural facilities,” the CAG said in its audit report for 2007-08.
The policy should also focus on marketing strategy and publicise various explored sectors of tourism like eco-tourism, adventure tourism, health tourism, besides its rich socio-religious and cultural facets like Buddhist monasteries and stupas which have been the centres of ancient religious rituals and practices, the report said.
Buddhist monasteries and stupas could be developed as tourist destinations under religious tourism circuit in combination with Nepal, Bhutan and parts of West Bengal, it said, adding that the State government should also tap the surroundings around Mount Khanchendzong.Casual approach
The State should accord utmost priority with adequate budgetary support to the development of flora and fauna of Sikkim for promotion of health/nature tourism, it said.
The CAG rapped the State Tourism Department officials for their “casual approach” in formulating a policy, putting in place various mechanism to address the issues of safety and security of the tourism and disseminating information to the prospective visitors.
Criticising the officials for their “callous attitude,” it said the department failed to accord priority to safety and security measures as it had not appointed tourist police or separate mobile medical units to handle emergency situations.
The CAG also criticised the department for its “failure” to utilise 75 idle assets like Yatri Nivas, wayside amenities, cafeteria and trekker huts/trails, constructed at a cost of Rs. 56.17 crore leading to no yield on the investment.
The CAG report found that four out of 16 Tourist Information Centres were ill-equipped or non-functional for a period ranging from one to two years. — PTI
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