Sinlung /
11 August 2015

Northeast Sees 40% More Foreign Tourists

New Delhi, Aug 11 : Despite deterrents such as poor connectivity and lack of decent hotels, foreign tourist flows to northeastern states jumped nearly 40 percent in 2014 over the previous year, even as efforts are on to promote the sector there, parliament was informed on Monday.

In a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Tourism Mahesh Sharma said the number of foreign tourist arrivals in the eight northeastern states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura in 2014 was 118,552 compared to 84,820 in 2013 -- marking a 39.76 percent increase. In 2012, the figure was 66,302.

"Some of the factors responsible for poor tourist inflow to the destination are lack of connectivity, non-availability of reasonably priced hotel accommodation, absence of tourism infrastructure and carrying capacity of the destination."

He said the government has included the northeast in two new tourism schemes that have been launched.

Apart from the Northeast Circuit under the 'Swadesh Darshan' scheme, two other circuits under the scheme - Buddhist Circuit and Himalayan Circuit - can be linked to the region

According to the minister, Kamakhya in Guwahati has been identified under the Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive (Prasad) scheme.

Sharma said as against the required 10 percent budgetary allocation of every central government ministry for the development of the northeastern region, the tourism ministry has been providing more than that in the last three fiscal years.

In 2014-15, the ministry allocated Rs.144.68 crore (Rs.1.44 billion) from its Rs.1,100-crore budget in 2014-15 or 13.15 percent of the total budget. In 2013-14, it was Rs.149.16 crore out of Rs.980 crore and in 2012-13, it was Rs.113.72 crore out of Rs.950 crore.

This apart, the ministry has undertaken several initiatives for the promotion of tourism in the northeast, Sharma said.

These include provision of complimentary space to the northeast in India pavilions set up at major international travel fairs and exhibitions and 100 percent central government financial assistance for organising fairs and festivals in the northeastern states.

"The ministry of tourism, as part of its ongoing activities, annually releases print, electronic, online and outdoor media campaigns in the international and domestic markets, under the Incredible India brand line, to promote various tourism destinations and products of the country, including the lesser known destinations which have tourism potential," the minister said.

"The ministry of tourism undertakes special campaigns on northeastern region on TV channels to promote tourism in the region."

He said the International Tourism Mart (ITM) is organised annually with the objective of showcasing the largely untapped tourism potential of the northeastern region in the domestic and international markets.

"In addition, a series of promotional activities are undertaken in important and potential tourist generating markets overseas through the India Tourism Offices abroad with the objective of showcasing India's tourism potential."

Under the 'Swadesh Darshan' scheme, an amount of Rs.20.35 crore has been allocated to the state government of Manipur in 2013-14 fiscal for the "Integrated Cable-Car and Lakeside Tourism Development Project at Loktak Lake".

"Under this scheme, funds are allocated under public-private partnership," Sharma said.

In reply to another question, the minister said the North Eastern Council had conducted a study for the identification of tourism circuits in the northeast and the same has been shared with the respective state governments.

He said the Arunachal Pradesh government has also sent a proposal for integrated development of adventure tourism in the state under the 'Swadesh Darshan' scheme.


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