JOY ROY CHOUDHURY – Kolkata
Sikkim Tourism is set to give a thrust to flori-tourism in the state and organise an International Flower Show from February 23-27, 2013 at Saramsa Gardens, in East Sikkim district. According to Bhim Prasad Dhungel, tourism minister, Sikkim, “This year’s International Flower Show will witness 15,000 different varieties of flowers. The floral extravaganza will be represented by 25 international flora companies, 30 national flora companies and 190 flower growers’ organisations in the state under one roof. Flori-tourism is a thrust area of the tourism department as 72 per cent of the country’s rhododendrons grow in the state.” The tourism board also plans to attract both tourists from ASEAN regions and domestic tourists during the launch of a huge statute of Lord Buddha at ‘Buddha Park’ in the state by His Holiness Dalai Lama.
He informed that Sikkim is home to around 5,000 species of flowering plants, 515 rare orchids, 60 primula species, 36 rhododendron species, 11 oak varieties, 23 bamboo varieties, 16 conifer species, 362 types of ferns and ferns allies, eight tree ferns, and over 424 medicinal plants. A variant of the Poinsettia, locally known as ‘Christmas Flower’, can be found in abundance in the mountainous state. The orchid Dendrobium nobile is the official flower of Sikkim, while the rhododendron is the state tree.
A senior tourism department official also informed that the department, in cooperation with other government agencies, has been working on a plan to develop infrastructure like roads, helipads, hotels, entertainment facilities, wayside amenities, etc and human resources to further promote sectors like village tourism, hydro-tourism, adventure sports, eco-tourism, etc, in order to attract more tourists throughout the year. The state tourism department is also taking steps to develop facilities for adventure sports. “We are expecting 15-20 per cent rise in tourist arrivals in the coming year,” added Dhungel.