Prog under ‘Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat’ initiative organized

GUWAHATI, Aug 1: Indiatourism Guwahati here in Assam organized a programme under the union tourism ministry’s ‘Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat’ initiative on Saturday, in collaboration with Arunachal-based Himalayan Holidays.

Six panellists and four guest speakers along with 56 participants from different corners of India attended the event, which was hosted on a virtual platform.

Arunachal, Meghalaya and Uttar Pradesh were the focus states selected by the government of India for the event.

In his inaugural address, the tourism ministry’s Regional Director (NE), SS Devbarman emphasized on community-based tourism, and spoke about “the opportunities and potentials for tourism in the Northeast.”

He said the region would be “one of the favourite destinations for both domestic and foreign tourists post Covid-19.”

Participating from New Delhi, the tourism ministry’s Regional Director (North), Anil Oraw assured to organize a “Northeast tourism road show in one of the metro cities for tour operators from the region.”

The platform would provide an opportunity to tourism stakeholders from the region to showcase their products and services besides networking with tour operators in mainland India.

Shillong (Meghalaya)-based Institute of Hotel Management HoD Dr Balabynta Kharshiing made a PowerPoint presentation on culinary tourism “and a wide ranging possibility in the niche market.”

Dr Gaurav Vishal from the Institute of Hotel Management, Lucknow, said that the interaction at the cultural level would “generate vibrancy of understanding and appreciation amongst the people, besides forging mutual bond and enriching the value system of unity among the denizens.”

The inaugural session was followed by a panel discussion on ‘Opportunities and challenges in tourism post Covid-19’ and ‘Community-based tourism post Covid-19’.

North East India Tourism Confederation president E Banlumlang Blah gave tips to tourism stakeholders on “how to survive, revive and thrive during and after the Covid-19 pandemic.”

He emphasized on SOPs and other statutory requirements “besides skilling and up-skilling the tourism service providers.”

Waltz India director Ajay Jain outlined the need for “digitalization for meetings and discussions, focus on local trips, developing skills for future trips,” etc.

Jettwings Group of Institutes centre head Phrangkupar Kharbamon made a presentation on tourism, with special reference to Meghalaya, while Bengia Mrinal from Itanagar spoke on Theravada Buddhism and Tai Khamti/Singpho cuisines as “case studies for tourism promotion in Arunachal Pradesh.”

NgunuZiro founder Dr T Kanno said that activities under community-based tourism have been relatively less affected in comparison to other tourism activities.

He added that for revival of tourism, “the first step would logically include activities like trekking, bird and butterfly watching, etc, because it is easier to follow guidelines under the new normal in these activities.”

The panel discussion was followed by instant polling and a Q&A session.