Rai mentioned that the airport acts as a ‘hub’ for tourists visiting Sikkim and Eastern Himalayas, including yatris travelling to Kailash Mansarovar through the recently opened Nathu La route. China has allowed a second and shorter route to Mansarovar through Sikkim recently.
Bagdogra is the only airport for Sikkim and North Bengal, that serves as the most important airport for a large area including Bhutan, Lower Assam, Eastern Bihar and Eastern Nepal, Rai said. It has vast economic and cultural importance for the people of Sikkim and North East, he added.
The Union Minister said that work is in full swing to make the Pakyong airport in Sikkim operational. Tourist inflow both foreign and domestic to North East mainly Sikkim has increased recently.
The Pakyong airport spread over 400 hectares of land is an airport under construction near Gangtok. It is the first Greenfieldairport to be constructed in the North Eastern Region of India and the only airport in Sikkim.