Guwahati, October 12 : The seven sister states of the Northeast India are known for their diverse ethnic cultures, pristine destinations, exotic tribal cuisines, vast diversity in flora and fauna. Still, this block of seven connected and landlocked states has not yet become the most favoured or the most visited destination in the country.
The reasons for it firstly lack of sustained promotion of destinations here through a concerted efforts among these states. Secondly, the state governments of these states have not tried extensively to promote mass-centric tourism by taking the local people and entrepreneurs as major stakeholders in the sector.
Tourism is a sector where government’s role at best could be that of the facilitator and rest all depends on other stakeholders like locals, private sector entrepreneurs etc., who must be well supported by the government.
The pristine destinations in the Northeast are such that promotion of these will automatically get translated into to development of the rural economy as the local villagers stand to gain most from increased footfall in locations in their vicinity.
This year’s theme of World Tourism Day – Tourism and Rural Economy – could be a boon for the tourism sector in Seven Sister states in the region. Sikkim has been excluded from the ambit of this write-up for the obvious reason that this tiny Himalayan state has already made big stride in tourism sector through an all-encompassing approach.
Since 1980, the United Nations World Tourism Organization has celebrated World Tourism Day as international observances on September 27. The date was chosen as on that day in 1970, the Statutes of the UNWTO were adopted. The adoption of these Statutes is considered a milestone in global tourism.
The theme of the World Tourism Day is just right for the NE states because of the potential of the rural areas and tribal lifestyle of the region in promoting tourism thereby developing the rural economy.
For instance, ethnic food of the Northeast could promote tourism and fast track rural development besides exotic north-eastern cuisines which are highly under-rated in mainland India. Local brews of various tribes of the region can be promoted as part of food tourism. The stakeholders in the sector have to focus more on visuals to promote rural tourism -- a photograph or a video can impact or impress aspiring visitors more than tourists brand ambassadors.
Besides we need create a big pool of human resources who are capable tourist guides by training and extensive knowledge about the geography, logistics, tribes, food, culture etc. of various nook and corner of the region. And it is not going to happen overnight. For that Northeast state governments need to create an academic as well as practical environment for attracting young people to work in tourism sector in various roles. It would always be a prudent idea for the inter-linked NE states to work out a common plan and strategy to promote their destinations instead of trying to attract tourists through individual state-centric approach.