TODAY -

'Manipur Model' of Homestays gets booster to enhance tourism

Nirendra Dev *



Manipur tourism is set to get a boost as the centre has decided to encourage 'homestay' schemes to attract visitors. Such an initiative was undertaken by the BJP-led coalition government in Manipur in 2020 itself.

The Union Ministry of Tourism in coordination with the Madhya Pradesh government organised a two-day 'Meet in India' conference to try to evolve a new road map to put Indian tourism on track in the post-Covid era at Khajuraho.

At a 'stakeholders' meeting' at this tourist haven last week, Union Tourism Minister Prahlad Patel urged indigenous people including in Northeastern states to initiate homestays to aid experiential tourism and boost the economy by encouraging homestays.

The Union minister said that indigenous communities can opt for the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana to build pucca houses but retain their traditional huts. If necessary, these mud and bamboo built houses could be converted into homestays for both domestic and international tourists, he suggested.

It may be mentioned that Manipur's 'homestays' are quite popular in state capital Imphal and also in places like Moirang in Bishnupur district and Ukhrul.

Officials in Union Tourism say, while Covid19 has affected the hospitality industry, things are improving of late despite hiccups. In Manipur, a total of 28,836 tourists including over 12,000 foreign tourists visited the state in the financial year 2019-20.

Obviously, tourism can also provide jobs, help earn revenue and of course it can also deal with challenges posed by insurgency and related matters. Northeast of India as a bloc was last to be affected and first to recover from the effects of pandemic and hence officials say it would make a lot of sense to boost both domestic and international tourism in that region.

"First of all we are trying to convey the impression that it is safe to travel (in the context of Covid19) to the northeast. Our campaigns under webinar series and Dekho Apna Desh are aimed at showing that there is improvement in connectivity. Better rail and air connectivity will also happen," Union Tourism Secretary, Arvind Singh, told this journalist.

Moreover, many northeast tourism projects have been funded by the centre under Swadesh Darshan and Prashad schemes. The Government of India is also set to encourage local tourism bonanza in the line of Hornbill Festival of Nagaland in all other northeastern states, Secretary Tourism said. .

"On the issue of festivals to attract tourists in northeastern states, we have a good suggestion. Like we have Hornbill Festival in Nagaland, we can encourage more such local state level festivals," Singh said. "We will take up this matter with stakeholders," he said.

The Government of India is seriously striving to revive tourism especially post-Covid as the hospitality industry is also a game changer in more ways than one. Steps are also being taken to augment training programmes for youths from northeastern states to help them get employment in the private sector in the tourism industry, the Secretary added.


* Nirendra Dev wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer can be contacted at nirendev1(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on April 05 2021 .



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