The tourism sector in Sikkim was affected this week after many bookings were cancelled following heavy snowfall in the eastern and northern parts of the state that caused many visitors to get stranded, an official said on Sunday.
However, with the clearance of the roads and resumption of issuance of passes, tourist footfalls to the hot-spots in these regions are gradually picking up, he said.
Popular tourist destinations such as Tsomgo Lake, Nathula pass, Baba Mandir in East Sikkim and Gurudongmar Lake and Yumthang valley in the North were cut off from the state capital for the better part of the week.
At least 900 tourists were stranded along the J N Road, which connects Gangtok with Tsomgo Lake and Nathula, after heavy snowfall disrupted road communication.
They were sheltered in an army camp for a night and rescued the next morning. Similarly, BRO (Border Roads Organisation) also rescued 175 tourists from different parts of North and East Sikkim on Saturday and brought them back safely to Gangtok.
A tourism official said that due to the weather conditions, issuance of passes to tourists for visiting Tsomgo Lake and Nathula pass was suspended for a few days but have resumed now.
"Many tourists were stranded, so we had stopped issuing passes for three days. But now, roads are open and we have resumed issuing passes. We expect snowfall during this time of the year. But this time, it was heavy," he said.
Last week, many tourists had to cancel their bookings to Tsomgo Lake and Nathula due to heavy snowfall. That hit the sector. If such snowfall occurs again, it will be further affected, the official said.
"We also advice tourists not to travel to the higher reaches for now as there is always a possibility of roads getting blocked due to snowfall," he said, adding, however, the destinations are open as of now.
"No fresh reports of tourists getting stranded have been received so far. However, the machinery is prepared if that happens," he said. An Indian Army official in North Sikkim said the region continues to receive snowfall but the army is ready if tourists are stranded again.