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Tourism ministry to promote Northeast as a package across the borders

GUWAHATI: With an objective to double tourist footfall in the region in five years, the Union Tourism Ministry is focusing on promoting destinations in the eight Northeastern states as a package and going for increased inter-regional contact with neighbouring countries under the Centre’s ‘Act East Policy’.

Addressing a press conference at the on-going International Tourism Mart (ITM) here, Union Tourism secretary Rashmi Verma emphasised that the picturesque and cultural diverse Northeast needed to have better connectivity and resort to an aggressive marketing campaign to double the number of tourist’s footfall the region’s vast tourism potential was not yet fully known outside.

She further said, under ‘Act East Policy’, the ministry will focus on increased inter-regional contact, attracting international tourists to the region.

“Connectivity to the Northeast, be it rail, road or air, has increased manifold in the past few years. Several new destinations are being soon connected by air in the next few months. We are now also looking to build inter-regional people-to-people contact between Northeast India and ASEAN countries. With an aggressive marketing campaign, doubling the arrival of both foreign and domestic tourists to the Northeastern region in the next five years does not look difficult,” Verma said.

Over 1.6 lakh foreign and 77 lakh domestic tourists had visited Assam and the other Northeastern states during 2016, registering a 5.2 per cent increase over the previous year. “This year, the region has already registered a 15.8 per cent increase with less than one month to go,” she said.

Describing as “very encouraging and positive” the deliberations in the on-going three-day International Tourism Mart (ITM) for the Northeastern region that began here on Tuesday, Verma said the unique features of the region should be marketed through special campaigns.

“While each of the eight Northeastern states have specific unique features, it is equally important to sell them in different special thematic packages like wildlife, adventure, eco-tourism ethnic tourism and cuisine,” she said.

“The ministry of tourism is now looking across the international borders for extending its marketing campaign to sell destination Northeast. It is time to offer such tourists packages which can bring, say a tourist to Nepal also to the Northeast India. We are also looking at tie-ups with neighbouring countries, ASEAN and BIMSTEC members for inter-regional cooperation for tourism,” Verma said.

Assam Tourism minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sharma, who was present at the press conference, said connectivity in the region is being improved, with special focus on air connectivity.

Bids for developing 92 identified air strips in the region have already been started by the Civil Aviation ministry, he added.

 

Representatives from 29 countries which included government officials, tour operators, travel writers and media persons, are taking part in the three-day ITM here that ends on Thursday.

 

 

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