Sikkim, West Bengal sign agreement to ease travel for tourists in a bid to boost tourism
The agreement will allow West Bengal-registered commercial vehicles to drop tourists at their hotels in different travel destinations of Sikkim.
The agreement will allow West Bengal-registered commercial vehicles to drop tourists at their hotels in different destinations of Sikkim, they said.
After getting down at Bagdogra airport or New Jalpaiguri railway station in West Bengal, people earlier had to take Sikkim-registered vehicles to reach the state. There were restrictions on West Bengal-registered vehicles in the Himalayan state.
Same was the situation for Sikkim-registered vehicles wanting to go to Darjeeling, Kalimpong and other Himalayan towns in northern West Bengal.
With the signing of the agreement, these restrictions would be lifted, officials said.
The agreement was signed between West Bengal transport minister Firhad Hakim and Sikkim tourism minister Sanjit Kharel on Tuesday.
Hakim said the move will boost tourism in the region.
Kharel said the agreement is historic and will strengthen the relations between the two neighbouring states.
Sikkim can be reached by road and rail only via West Bengal. Though Sikkim has a small airport in Pakyong, Bagdogra airport in West Bengal's Siliguri serves as the main air connectivity point.
The two governments also agreed to increase the number of vehicles being operated between Siliguri and the popular tourist destinations in Sikkim, besides doing away with the practice of taking toll from each other's vehicles.
The number of Sikkim government buses operating from Siliguri to Gangtok was increased from 25 to 30. The number of buses on the route in the opposite direction was increased from 45 to 50, officials said.
On the Siliguri-Namchi route, the number of buses was increased to four. Also, a new bus service was started from Sitai in West Bengal's northernmost Coochbehar district to Gangtok.
The number of taxis operating on the Siliguri-Gangtok route was increased from 2,500 to 3,000.
The two states would not take any entry toll from each other's vehicles, Hakim said.
"We thank West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for resolving the long-pending issues," the Sikkim minister said.