Sinlung /
26 September 2012

Northeast Can Be New Tourist Haven

http://lh6.ggpht.com/_qQQQg0ODhzo/TLxjsQqYQCI/AAAAAAAAKFc/Qc801yIGYOs/northeast%20india%20tourism%5B2%5D.jpgNew Delhi, Sep 26 : India needs new tourist destinations and the northeast region has the potential to fulfill the role if its tourism infrastructure improves, Assam Tourism Minister Chandan Brahma said here Tuesday.

Brahma told IANS at a workshop on "Making North East Tourism Ready" that the northeast has rich ethnic diversity, cultural heritage, wildlife and natural beauty and has potential to emerge as a favourite of tourists.

"India needs new tourist destinations. Tourists are looking forward to this," Brahma said.

He said Assam alone has 20 wildlife sanctuaries and seven national parks.

Brahma said the central government should give more funds for creating tourism infrastructure in the region, which needs more hotels and tourism resorts.

Earlier, speaking at the workshop, Brahma said that the Assam government was coming up with a tourism policy and initiatives such as river taxis and a luxury cruises on the Brahmaputra river. He said Assam International Tourism Carnival will be held in January next year at Guwahati and more than 20 countries were expected to take part.

Priya M. Varghese of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) said the northeast accounts for 7.9 percent of the country's geographical area but attracts only 0.9 percent of domestic tourists and 0.3 percent of international tourists.

She said there was a need for unified tourism policy for the region, a unified tourism portal and an e-commerce portal.

Varghese said the proposed state investment for prioritised development of tourism circuits in the eight states - Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura - has been estimated at Rs.3,959 crore over 10 years.

A.S. Lamba, secretary, Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region, said tourism in the northeast had not realised its potential due to infrastructure bottlenecks and poor marketing.

He said the master plan could be executed over the next 10 years depending on availability of funds, and nine tourist circuits were expected to be taken in first phase of its implementation.

U.K. Sangma, secretary, North East Council, said the TCS study had identified tourist circuits which should be developed. He said tour operators had a significant role to play in projection of tourism spots.

N.K. Bharali, chairman, Confederation of Indian Industry's (CII) northeast council, said: "The transport and hotel industry itself generates construction activity and generates demand for a wide variety of goods and services with significant linkages to agriculture, horticulture and handicrafts."

Subash Goyal, president, Indian Association of Tour Operators, dwelled on the significance of "marketing" for boosting tourism in the northeast.

"There is need to improve accessibility, infrastructure and marketing. Inter-regional connectivity should be better," he said.

The workshop was organised by the CII, in partnership with the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region, North East Council and Association of Tour Operators of North East India.

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