STAFF REPORTER GUWAHATI, Dec 6 - Under the UDAN scheme, 92 new routes will be opened in the Northeast which is expected to give a major fillip to air connectivity in the region, Union Tourism Secretary Rashmi Verma said here today.Addressing a press conference on the sidelines of the 6th International Tourism Mart here, Verma also said to promote tourism in the Northeast, her ministry is also looking at inter-regional and thematic packages to harness the resources cutting across state boundaries.
Union Tourism Secretary Rashmi Verma along with State Tourism Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma addressing a press meet during the 6th International Tourism Mart, in Guwahati on Wednesday. – UB Photos
“After two rounds of bidding under the UDAN scheme, 92 routes have been selected for connectivity. Many private bidders have come forward. The routes will utilise unused airstrips in the region. We hope many new airports will come up in the region,” she said.
The Union secretary also said while each northeastern state has its own unique feature, a more aggressive marketing strategy is required to attract more tourists.
“The region witnessed 77 lakh domestic and 1.6 lakh international tourists last year. The growth rate, at 5.2 per cent, is encouraging. But we can easily double the footfall if we can tell the world about the tourism products the region has to offer,” she said.
She said the Central government is working out a strategy to get more tourists. “We are not trying to replace what is happening. But we are looking at inter-regional packages and thematic packages over and above the existing ones. We are trying to tell tourists that if you can be in one northeastern state, you can also visit another,” she said.
“We can also have packages with neighbouring countries. Normally, tourists like those from Europe travel and stay for a longer period. We can give them an option, that when they are visiting a neighbouring country, for example Nepal, they can also visit the Northeast,” she said.
Verma said the government is also targeting the social media to showcase the tourism potential of the region. An exclusive roadshow for the Northeast will be held in Thailand soon, she informed.
The Indian Association of Tour Operators has also proposed to hold a training of tour operators to create awareness about the region. The training will be held in the region.
State Tourism Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said 67 foreign delegates, which include 42 tour operators and seven travel writers, are participating in the three-day tourism mart. Altogether 103 buyers from the region are also participating in the event.