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Gangtok, 1st November, 2010: The Sikkim government has hiked rates for expeditions to five peaks open for mountaineering and has reduced fees for high and low altitude trekking.
The government has also made the tourism department the nodal authority to grant permission for the climbs and the treks. Five peaks in Sikkim were declared open for climbs by the state government in 2006 and only local tour operators registered with the tourism department were allowed to conduct the expedition.
Of the five mountains, three are in West Sikkim - Frey’s peak (6010 meters), Mount Tinchenkhang (6010 meters) and Mount Jupon (5932 meters). The others two are Lama Wangden (5868 meters) and Brumkhangse (5935 meters) in North Sikkim.
Previous fees to climb the five peaks for foreigners were $ 350 for a four- member team and $ 500 for a group of eight persons. Each additional member was charged $ 100. According to a notification issued by the government, the rates have now been hiked to $ 500 for a four member’s team and to $ 700 for an eight members group. However, the rate of $100 for every additional member will remain unchanged.
The government has also increased the fees for expedition by Indian living outside Sikkim. The increased amount will be INR 15000 for an eight member team. There will be no change in the rate for additional climber and it will be remain at INR 1500. For an eight member Sikkim team, the fees have been hiked to INR 5000 from INR 3000. Tour agencies conducting the climbs would be given 20 per cent of the fees.
However there is good news for nature lovers. Trekking along authorized trails above $ 12000 feet will now cost only $ 200 or a 10 member foreign group, compared to the earlier charge of $ 300. For a 10 member’s Indian team, the reduced fee is INR 3000. The rates, for low altitude treks will be 50 per cent of the amount charged for the trails along the higher areas.
Earlier, an adventurist had to approach the department of forest, tourism and home for clearances for the expeditions to the five peaks and the trekking. But from now on, the tourism department will be the nodal agency to permit and regulate all adventure sports, including mountaineering and trekking.
Tourism secretary S.B.S Bhaduaria hoped that a lot of people would be attracted sports in the state with the introduction of the single windows system. “This is a landmark decision of the government to encourage people to take up adventure sports. For any kind of clearance for adventure sports, people can approach the tourism department, which wills acts the single windows system,” he said. The travel industry of Sikkim has welcomed the decision to appoint the tourism department as the nodal authority for adventure tourism.
“It is a welcome initiative from the government. It will be easy to approach the single windows clearance system of the tourism activities in Sikkim will be now more streamlined under the department” said Travels Agents Associations of Sikkim president Lucinda Rasially.
The government has also made it mandatory for the tour agents organizing the mountaineering and the trekking to submit a bank guarantee of Rupees One Lakh (INR 100000) for search and rescue operation in the events of any mishap during the expeditions. This is in addition to the existing should provide insurance coverage to expedition members, camp crew and pack animals.
Tour operators have also been made responsible for search and rescue operations under the overall control and directions of the tourism department. …… ……… …… ……… ………… ………………………….Source The Telegraph
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