Friday, December 2, 2022

Beyond a festival

Amid the hype and hoopla of lighting the spark for economic development in Nagaland as envisaged through government’s economic visions in the past decades, state planners have been bringing out vision documents to prepare the blueprint of the future. In addition to agro-industry, the other aspect for economic activity is global tourism, which is ever growing and a permanent activity. Nagaland needs to attract the desired number of tourists beyond a ten-day event called the Hornbill Festival in Kohima. It has been a generally held view that Nagaland’s tourism potential has yet to be exploited. First and foremost, it needs to be understood that these “untapped potential(s)” should be identified and honestly assessed whether overall, the state has something that would make tourists want to visit the state. Sikkim attracts those interested in the state’s scenic landscapes and its famed floriculture industry. Sikkim is a good example where eco-tourism has grown into a thriving industry due to government intervention along with awareness spread through tourism-oriented NGOs. There are states which attract tourists with their agro produce such as the wine festival in Shillong, orange and Sangai festival in Manipur and adventure sports in Arunachal Pradesh. Nagaland could base its appeal with Agri tourism as there is ample evidence of horticulture and floriculture which people in general are familiar with. Agri-tourism, which is also one among many other facets of the attractions offered by Thailand, can become a special beneficiary in the development of tourism and travel industry. In this regard, the concept requires establishing agri museums, agriculture related festivals and fairs including farmers’ markets. Agri museums will have the benefits for farm vacations, heritage trails, farm tours and farm activities. Economic development is not a one-way traffic. According to a study, the increasing tourism activities can help build environmental and cultural awareness, provide positive experience for both visitors and hosts and give direct financial benefits for conservation. The other aspect is to impress upon the importance of ‘responsible tourism’ whose goal is to create “better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit.” It is a comprehensive approach to the travel and tourism industry ensuring that the potential negative impacts of tourism are minimized while contributing to the preservation local livelihoods, culture and conservation on which they are dependent. The state government needs to focus on this aspect, in order to promote a longer duration for tourism during the dry winter months. Further, tourists visit places for various reasons-pilgrimage, relaxation and health,agri and environment, shopping, culture and others. Therefore, the list needs to be whittled down so that the concentration could help in faster development instead of fritting away to pander all kinds of unrealistic dreams, trying to copy other states or simply failure to understand that the government cannot and should not be the main player. There area many reasons security concerns, whether rightly or wrongly, have to be addressed seriously and urgently. It is in this regard, that all those NGOs and tribal hohos, who seemed to be engrossed in other issues, need to look into these and meet the challenging demands.

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