Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr. Jitendra Singh said today that there was an immediate need to avail of the post-COVID opportunities in tourism sector in India, particularly the North Eastern Region, which can offer itself as an alternative to some of the European destinations that many regular holiday-makers may find less preferable in the immediate aftermath of high Corona prevalence over there.
At a meeting with representatives of various Tourist and Transport bodies, Dr Jitendra 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. He said, if in this season we are able to ensure a boost in our tourist inflow, it will set a trend for the following years.
Dr Jitendra Singh said, the North Eastern Region, despite some of its choicest destinations in Meghalaya, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, could not adequately avail of the opportunities because of lack of support from the Centre and low prioritization from successive governments. However, he said, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, there has been revolutionary and fast track improvement in means of connectivity and transport, which should facilitate the ease of tourism. Citing an example, he 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 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, namely Holiday Makers, Medical Tourists and Film Makers, Dr Jitendra Singh referred to the decision to set up a Film Studio in Sikkim and the upcoming Film and Television Institute in Arunachal Pradesh. He said, in the last six years, Guwahati has developed as one of the best Super Specialty Healthcare destinations and this aspect needs to be propagated not only in the neighbouring States but also in the counties across Eastern border like Myanmar, Bhutan and Nepal who would realise the option of easier treatment with cost-effective medical care.
During the meeting, various representatives also offered some constructive suggestions to which the DoNER Minister said that they should prepare a proposal, which could be subjected to further perusal after the elections when the Model Code of Conduct ceases to exist. The issue of easy Visa facilities for patients coming from the Eastern countries across the Eastern borders and the airfare rates also came up during the discussion. It was decided to follow up on all the issues raised and mutually coordinate to supplement the private sector with government support.