Around 10 lakh domestic and 40000 foreign tourists visit Sikkim and North Bengal every year. From New Jalpaiguri Station or Bagdogra Airport in North Bengal, the tourists need to hire a car to reach Sikkim. But due to some complications, the transporters and the tourists faced many problems, as there was no revision in the transport agreement between West Bengal and Sikkim.
The Earlier Problems
In 2007, a transport pact was signed between the two states. But there were flaws in the agreement as per many transporters. Because of the restrictions, both the transporters and the tourists would face these problems-
Because of these reasons, the transporters of both states would have faced severe problems doing business and maintaining official records and the tourists also suffered. Due to the vast increase in the number of passengers between the states, the problem is exacerbated. They have been raising these issues and demanding change for a long time.
Transport Associations of Sikkim claimed to issue permits from a single point of the State Transport Authority office in Siliguri. They also demanded to merge all the quotas. The Himalayan Hospitality and Tourism Development Network (HHTDN) also demanded to review of the reciprocal agreement, and they submitted a memorandum in 2018.
So, there was a need to improvise the existing 2007 agreement. The travel industry, which suffered losses from the Pandemic, also had to turn around. When the travel restrictions loosened, both states reviewed it and crafted the Reciprocal Transport Agreement 2022.
How Will The New Transport Agreement Impact On Travel?
On 5th July 2022, at Mayfair Tea Resort, Siliguri, a new Reciprocal Transport Agreement (2022) was signed between Sri Firhad Hakim, Hon’ble Minister In-Charge of Transport Department, Govt. of West Bengal and Sri Sanjeet Kharel, Hon’ble Minister In-Charge of Transport Department, Govt. of Sikkim. The governments penned it to solve all the problems above. According to the new transport agreement, both the transporters and tourists will get benefits in these ways-
Thus, the New Transport Reciprocal Agreement will ease the transportation between West Bengal and Sikkim and help the transporters, tourists, and the whole tourism industry. As a result, tourism will be easier and cheaper. If you are planning to visit Sikkim from West Bengal or vice versa, there will be no hassle or complication in any way. So, the new transport agreement will definitely be beneficial for travel. Apart from this agreement, the recent extension of Darjeeling Mail service to Haldibari will also help tourism.