Tangible collaborations for sustainable tourism in state advocated

ITANAGAR, Jul 18: A consultation workshop held at the State Food Craft Institute here on Thursday ended with a call for tangible collaborations between the government, the civil society and the private sector to help boost sustainable tourism and popularize Arunachal Pradesh as a hotspot for water-, adventure- and biodiversity-linked tourism.
Titled ‘Opportunities in water, tourism, energy and linked livelihoods in Arunachal Pradesh: Learning from the Mekong region’, the workshop was organised by Shillong (Meghalaya)-based think-tank Asian Confluence in collaboration with the tourism department here.
The participants shared information about the practices in water-linked tourism in countries like Cambodia and Thailand in the Mekong region, and explored ways to adapt them in the Northeast, specifically in the context of Arunachal.
“We are focusing on enhancing tourism in Arunachal by training communities and encouraging homestays to help tourists experience the traditional flavour of Arunachal,” said Tourism Assistant Director Bengia Manna Sonam in her address.
Senior fellow of the Asian Confluence, Prithviraj Nath, said Arunachal has “immense potential for tourism, given its rich natural and cultural resources,” and said the state is poised to harness its potential “to not only promote high value tourism in line with how countries like Cambodia and Thailand are doing, but also to help strengthen the conservation and sustainability of natural resources.”
Nath elaborated how Cambodia went from recording very negligible international tourist footfalls in the early ’90s to more than 5 million in 2017, “with a revenue earning to the tune of INR 25733 crore in 2017.”
APEDA Director Marki Loya pointed out that while genuine concerns need to be factored in, “the topography of the state has certain advantages, and hydropower dams are unlikely to cause major displacement, given the steep slopes and mountain gorges that they usually are planned around.”
However, he said, “The overall perception is that big hydropower projects, though they will lead to economic gains, need thorough consultations and confidence-building among communities to help create ownership, and also bring clarity to the gains and allay concerns. Other than that, smaller-scale projects may be looked at.”
Arunachal Pradesh Tourism Operators’ Association secretary Bengiya Mrinal highlighted the importance of community awareness, training of youths, and handholding by the government to help the tourism sector prosper.
Tour operator Nino Dai emphasized the need to showcase the local and traditional practices, cultures, cuisines and histories.
Students and youths who participated in the workshop also placed their opinions for promotion of tourism in the state.
The participants agreed that the first challenge in the state’s tourism sector could be met through collaborative efforts by private and public entities, with private players taking the lead in sharing, adapting and imbibing the best practices from around the globe.
Government officials, private players, experts, members of civil society groups, youths, students, and media persons of the state took part in the workshop.