Tourism potential of Gangtok in particular and Sikkim in general has got a major fillip with the Centre launching its flagship regional air connectivity scheme UDAN to bring unserved and underserved airports into the fold of the country’s aviation map.
Same is the scenario with Hampi in Karnataka, Gangtok in Sikkim, Pithoragarh in Uttarakhand.
According to a report, nearly 11 lakh passengers have flown in the first 20 months of the scheme when airlines started over 120 air routes to 37 unserved and underserved airports.
According to experts in the travel and tourism industry, UDAN that started in April 2017 has also been instrumental in pulling crowds to destinations that until now were difficult to reach because they required extended road or rail journeys.
Through Pakyong, easier access to the state of Sikkim was opened up for tourists. In October 2018, budget carrier SpiceJet connected Pakyong to Kolkata and Guwahati. Before that, to reach Sikkim’s capital Gangtok, tourists had to fly to Bagdogra that is well-connected to a number of airports in the country, followed by a five to six hours journey by road.
The Kolkata-Pakyong-Kolkata route, on which SpiceJet operates the 78-seater Bombardier Q400 aircraft daily, started on October 4 last year and has witnessed 4,790 passengers during October and November according to DGCA data, the report added.
The Civil Aviation Ministry has been focusing on expanding UDAN to boost India’s tourism sector by connecting popular tourist spots by flights, for which it is working with the tourism ministry.