What is the current status of tourism in the North East?
The rich natural beauty, serenity and exotic flora and fauna of the area offer invaluable resources for the development of tourism. The region is endowed with diverse tourist attractions and each State has its own distinct features. The attractions are scattered over the entire region and are largely located in remote areas within highly fragile environment. Despite abundance of natural beauty and cultural diversity, number of tourist arrivals has been marginal due to lack of adequate infrastructure and other tourist amenities.
What are the recent initiatives to promote Tourism?
In order to develop and promote tourism in the region, Ministry of Tourism has taken the following steps:-
The Travel and Tourism Mart 2014 was inaugurated on 23rd February. This three day long travel fair began in Assam, with a focus on regional, national and international tourism activities. Various tour operators and media was invited to the fair to explore and discover the potential business interests for themselves. Tourism department of China and Thailand also participated in this exhibition.
Does the state run any specialized programme to impart hospitality skills to the workforce? Kindly elaborate.
To meet the demand for trained manpower in the hospitality industries, the Ministry of Tourism, continues to actively pursue its endeavour to create institutional infrastructure in the form of Institute of Hotel Management and Food Craft Institutes in North Eastern Region.
'Hunar se Rozgar' programme
A special initiative was launched in 2009-10 for creation of employable skills amongst youth belonging to economically weaker strata of society in the age group of 18-25 years(upper age limit raised to 28 years in November, 2010) with the basic objective to reduce the sill gap affecting the hospitality and tourism sector and to ensure the spread of economic benefit of tourism to the poor. The programme offers short duration courses of 6-8 weeks which are fully funded by MOT.
Some of the states of India give special focus on village tourism, what is the current status of village tourism in NorthEast? And to what extent will it empower the rural people?
The North Eastern region of the country with its unique traditions, cultural heritage, exotic flora, fauna and natural beauty has an immense potential for the development of rural tourism. The Rural Tourism Scheme of the Ministry of Tourism aims at improving the rural economy by promoting traditional rural art, craft, textile, culture etc. based livelihood through tourism process. The Ministry gives Central Financial Assistance for creating infrastructure and for human resource development in rural areas for developing sustainable tourism in the form of rural tourism projects. Out of the 186 villages wherein rural tourism projects have been sanctioned, a total of 56 villages are located in the North Eastern region. Also Ministry of Tourism provides Central Financial Assistance (CFA) to State Governments for development of tourist infrastructure and promotion of tourism including River Cruise.
Assam is host to many national parks and some of them have got UNESCO Natural World Heritage site status, how do they help tourism in the state?
Assam, has an unspoiled expanse of verdant nature and is home to 5 National Parks- 2Heritage sites, 18 wildlife sanctuaries, 46 birding areas and acres and acres of reserved forest. Bio-diversity estimate of Assam includes 3017 species of flowering plants, more than 193 species of wild orchids, 42 species bamboos, 14 species of canes, 164 species of mammals, 9 species of primates 800+ species of birds, 60+ species of amphibians, 1500 species of butterflies and 116 species of reptiles. Kaziranga and Manas National Parks are major tourist attractions and bring in lot of revenues and tourists.
Increasing connectivity, growing trade and tourism, and movement of people coupled with peace and normalcy propels region in electoral importance and stature.