Tourism Opportunities in NE States: Strength & Constraints

Jayanta Debnath

All eight States of the North Eastern Region (NER) are blessed with natural scenic beauty, distinct historical, cultural and ethnic heritage. Other than Eco-tourism, there is also a great scope for mountaineering, trekking and adventure tourism in almost all the states of the region. In spite of the presence of huge tourism potential in the region, percentage share of domestic tourists as compared with the total for all States/UTs in 2015  as per ministry of tourism record available was 0.02 for Arunachal Pradesh, 0.38 for Assam, 0.01 for Manipur, 0.05 for Meghalaya, 0.05 for Sikkim and 0.03 for Tripura. Similarly, percentage share of foreign tourists as compared with the total arrival of foreign tourists in the country was 0.02 for Arunachal Pradesh, 0.11 for Assam, 0.01 for Manipur, 0.03 for Meghalaya, 0.01 for Nagaland, 0.16 for Sikkim and 0.15 for Tripura .

NE States: Strength in Tourism sector

1.Rich in Natural Resources - “Forest, Heritage spots in huge numbers, Huge availability of Coal, Limestone, Petroleum, Natural Gas, Uranium And natural Water bodies etc.

2.Coal Reserves - 1,597 million tons in 5 NE States.

3. Sufficient numbers of  Water bodies  - Water Resource Potential in Brahmaputra and Barak Basin - 585.60 BCM (31 % of that for the Country) and Dumbor lake in Tripura.

4.Hydel Potential - 55,971 MW (40 % of the National Asset)

5.54,160 MW untapped; 46,805 MW in Arunachal Pradesh

6.Forest Cover - 65.34 % (National Average - 21.54 %)

7.Natural scenic beauty and distinct ethnic heritage

8.International boundary - 5,400 km (Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura  and Sikkim)

     NE States: Constraintsin Tourism sector


9.  Lack of exposure In national and international level

10. Inadequate air, rail, water and road connectivity

11. Shortage of skilled manpower in hospitality industries

12. Political and Security-related issues except in Tripura

13. Difficulties in transfer of tribal  land on lease for industries

14. No major  sale outlets for products made in NER states

15. Low Irrigation Coverage - 5.73 % in Assam to 26.51 % in Arunachal Pradesh (National average - 46.35 %)

 NER States: Opportunities in Tourism sector


16. Huge Prospects in  Eco-Tourism, Rural Tourism and Adventure Tourism sector

17. North East Tourism Development  Council (NETDC) may take pro-vital role for promotion

18. Popular  Home-Stay Tourism (as in   Sikkim) can  be encouraged in all the NER states

19. NETDC to work closely with NE States government for tourism  promotion

20. International tourist circuit  can be developed

 It is my firm understanding that, Eco-tourism, rural tourism and adventure tourism may be promoted by identifying suitable sites and creating supporting infrastructure at the identified sites through PPP mode. Institutional arrangements for active participation of the local people should also be put in place for running the facilities created at the tourism sites efficiently. Further, a mechanism may be developed for publicizing all the tourism potential existing in the NER states in and outside the country which is really missing.

Notably, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) was engaged earlier by the NEC to prepare the Integrated Tourism Master Plan (TMP) for the NER states. The final report was submitted by TCS in December 2011. But till date the TCS recommendation was not implemented. The recommendations contained in the TMP may be implemented suitably by the NE States, in consultation with the Ministry of Tourism and the states.

Furthermore, the North East Tourism Development Council (NETDC) has also been constituted to promote tourism in the North East. But the NE States and the NETDCis not working together properly for development of tourism sector of the NER states. Not only that,  the NETDC which was established  with an objective to create more employment opportunities for the local people in the NER states was not able to fulfill its objectives at all. Other than Sikkim, not a single NE state has been able to develop any infrastructure or home-stay atmospheres in their states. Home-stay needs to be encouraged in other states too as in Sikkim where more than thousand home-stays are operational as per latest report from Sikkim Tourism corporation website. Similar scope of homestay facilities can also be developed in Tripura and other NE states too.




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