Survival to Revival: North-East set to lead tourism rebound in India in the New Year

The Dima Hasao Autonomous Council is busy giving final touches to plans to welcome tourists to the hill district of Assam in the New Year. A new entrant to the North-East region’s tourism map, the Dima Hasao district is an eye-catching destination ideal for trekking, rafting, zip-lining, and rock climbing. Haflong, the district headquarters, is Assam’s only hill station.”Only the locals participated in our festivals organized after the restrictions were lifted.

In the New Year, we will be welcoming visitors from outside the state and the rest of the country,” says Jonola Bathari, an official at the tourism department of Dima Hasao Autonomous Council. Those festivals include the annual Falcon Festival held in November in Umrangso and the Judima Festival, held this year in Gunjung, a paragliding center near Haflong, in December.

Aided by its stunningly diverse culture and landscape, the North-East region comprising Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Sikkim, and Tripura is hoping the tourism sector (hit hard by a global pandemic) would switch gears in 2021. “The survival time is over and we are now on a revival mode,” beams E B Blah, president, North East India Tourism Confederation (NEITO).

In December, the government and private sector officials from the region who came together at the eighth edition of the North East Festival held in Assam’s capital Guwahati talked up its tourism potential. “Post-pandemic, the North-East has a great role to play in India’s recovery,” said Jitendra Singh, who heads the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region, in an online speech from New Delhi at the North East Festival held as a hybrid edition during December 19-20.

Industry leaders, from Assam’s tribal-dominated Dima Hasao to the nature-endowed Chandel in Manipur, are eager to kickstart a delayed tourism season in the North-East. While Nagaland is closed to tourists, all other states in the region are allowing visitors, some of them like Manipur without COVID-negative tests. “The focus of the North-East Festival is to assemble the stakeholders to launch the tourism season,” says Shyamkanu Mahanta, a cultural entrepreneur, and promoter of Delhi’s North East Festival and the popular Rangali cultural event in Guwahati.

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