Successive govts in Centre didn’t prioritise Northeast tourism sector: DoNER minister

Union minister of state (independent charge) for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) Jitendra Singh said that the Northeast region can offer itself as an alternative to some of the European destinations that many regular holiday-makers may find less preferable due to the COVID-19 situation.

He said that there was an immediate opportunity for the tourism sector as the industry has changed post-COVID.

At a meeting with representatives of various tourist and transport bodies, Singh said: “The opportunity is knocking at our door and it is now up to us as to how best we are prepared to avail of this opportunity. If in this season we are able to ensure a boost in our tourist inflow, it will set a trend for the following years.”

Singh said, the Northeast region, despite some of its choicest destinations in Meghalaya, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, could not adequately avail of the opportunities because of the lack of support from the Centre and low prioritization from successive governments. However, the DoNER minister said, under prime minister Narendra Modi, there has been a revolutionary and fast track improvement in means of connectivity and transport, which should facilitate the ease of tourism.

Citing an example, DoNER minister Jitendra Singh said, there was a time where roads linking the two states remained unattended because none of the states would take the responsibility, but now under the central government’s north eastern road development scheme, this issue has also been addressed.

“Tourists landing at Guwahati airport today prefer to go to Shillong and other destinations in Meghalaya by road rather than by helicopter or by other means, simply to relish the joy of a picturesque journey,” he added.

Laying particular emphasis on three components of tourism – holidaymakers, medical tourists and filmmakers – Singh referred to the decision to set up a film studio in Sikkim and the upcoming film and television institute in Arunachal Pradesh.

The DoNER minister said, in the last six years, Guwahati has developed as one of the best super-speciality healthcare destinations and this aspect needs to be propagated not only in the neighbouring states but also in the counties across the eastern border like Myanmar, Bhutan and Nepal who would realise the option of easier treatment with cost-effective medical care.

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