Union Tourism Minister KJ Alphons on Wednesday said the central government has initiated many new programmes and schemes for the development of tourism in the Northeast states.

Speaking at the Hornbill Festival in Nagaland, Alphons pointed out that the central government has given Rs 1,351 crore for the Northeast states to develop the tourism industry.

“Nagaland alone is getting Rs 197 crore for two (tourism) projects,” he said.

“For Nagaland and entire Northeast, tourism is a future. I don’t really think there is any place under the sun which is more beautiful than Northeast India, particularly Nagaland,” Alphons said.

Noting that Nagaland represents everything wonderful about the country, the tourism minister said, “The colour, music, dance, textile and food, it’s such an amazing place. The hyper active chief minister (Neiphiu Rio), who is everywhere, is leading this state into an amazing state of prosperity.”

He narrated his conversation with the union minister of civil aviation regarding helicopter services from Guwahati to Dimapur to Kohima and to Imphal and from Imphal back to Dimapur, where the minister agreed to his request.

“I come from Kerala which is known as ‘God’s own land’ but I think this is ‘God’s own paradise’,” Alphons said.

Highlighting the projects undertaken for the poor under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said: “We are on a huge path of progress. Tourism industry in India provides employment to 84 million people, and India generates $234 billion from tourism, contributing 7 per cent of the GDP.”

Expressing his happiness on the growth of tourism within the last four and a half years and the potential of tourism, Alphons said: “we have amazing people here, smiling all the time, and who are the epitome of hospitality.”

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