North East tourism doing exceedingly well, say tourism ministry officials

Guwahati, Jan. 18 (ANI): Describing the eight North Eastern states and West Bengal as 'Paradise unexplored', Union Tourism Secretary Pervez Dewan on Friday said that the two-day maiden International Tourism Mart (ITM) beginning here tomorrow is aimed at showcasing the region's tourism potentials to national and global markets.

The states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim and also West Bengal with contiguous features and varied topography, its flora and fauna, rich heritage of ancient traditions, lifestyles, festivals, arts and crafts of numerous ethnic communities offer diverse tourist attractions and products making them holiday destination waiting to be explored, Dewan said at a press conference.

The maiden event, a collaborative venture of the Ministry of Tourism and nine state governments, would be first such in the world where about 79 foreign delegates including officers, two ministers, 55 tour operators and 14 media persons from 23 countries, including 10 ASEAN countries, neighbouring SAARC countries, USA, UK Germany, Cambodia, Switzerland, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, France and Bhutan would receive nine varieties of local gifts, enjoy the unique cultures, products at stalls and unique cuisines of these nine states besides the foreign delegates going on familiarization trip to different states and cruise in Brahmaputra and visit to Pabitora wildlife sanctuary.

Assam Governor Janaki Ballav Pattanaik will inaugurate the tourism carnival in presence of Union Minister of State for Tourism Dr. K Chiranjeevi tomorrow at Saru Sajai Stadium.

The day-long event will have a culture display by 450 cultural ambassadors of the nine states to be followed by a cultural procession near the Judge's Field, in the heart of city. Highly talented artists of the region would be present unique cultural programme during the day, Dewan disclosed and appealed to the people of the city to put on their traditional dresses for the day to draw global attention.

Respective state in a 15-minute power point presentation each would reflect their unique cultures and traditions, business to business discussion between the 70 delegates and international buyers and 108 sellers from participating states, he added.

Assam is putting up its best effort to make the event a great success, said principal tourism secretary of Assam HS Das and informed that the state's budget included Rs 3 crore by the tourism department and expenditure by other nine departments besides the budget of MOT and nine states.

Quoting Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, he stressed on taking the delegates to villages to promote rural tourism and acquaint them with the rural life involving use of dekhi for husking or offering village dish. This event should be consolidated to promote inter-state tourism, he added.

Arunachal tourism will fully encash this opportunity by showcasing its unique products through its 85-member indigenous delegation, cultural presentation and a stall to the global guests, said tourism secretary Sonam Chombay.

Responding to questions, he informed that Protected Area Permit (PAP) has been relaxed and being issued for two foreigners the same day while a system would be in place soon to make innerline permit available online.

Manipur Tourism Commissioner Dr Rajesh Kumar cited the success of Sanghai Festival, use of IT and social media to popularise tourism in a massive way.

Pointing out that Manipur is a safe state without any PAP, he advocated fusion of ideas and interlinking state festivals to woo global tourists through the effective tool of IT.

Sikkim has made a mark in the sector, tourism secretary K S Tobgay said and urged the media to highlight good aspects as news instead of giving priority to only negativity.

The Union Ministry of Tourism has been spending about 15 to 20 percent of its budget for the North Eastern states against the central government's policy to allocate 10 percent budget by each department.

There is a special policy for the North East, including for funding projects or free stalls to NE states in international tourism marts.

The North East states have been doing very well in tourism sector despite their peculiar problems, Dewan said.

Additional Secretary Girish Shankar pitched in saying that the north east states are doing exceedingly well, including in implementing centrally-sponsored schemes.

Against all odds, the states of the region including Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya are doing very well in project implementation, he said.

Responding to the question that only one project was implemented during though Rs 77 crore was sanctioned during the 11th Five Year Plan, Ministry of Tourism Additional Director General A K Gupta quoted year-wise statistics: Rs 150 crore, Rs 160 crore, Rs 178 crore, Rs 208 crore, Rs 137 crore and Rs 134 crore during 2007-08, 2008-09, 2009-10, 2010-11, 2011-12 and till now this fiscal. The achievements are fantastic, he added.

Attn: News Editors/News Desks: The views expressed in the above article are those of Mr. Pradeep Kumar, Editor-in-Chief of the Arunachal Front By Pradeep Kumar. (ANI)

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