With the tourism season back, the Arunachal government sees it as an opportunity to get the economy of the state rolling and boost earning of the people in the state- including those living in the rural areas in the state. Northeast Today writes
While the Arunachal Pradesh government, headed by chief minister Pema Khandu is welcoming tourists, his government is equally concerned about the Covid situation in the state and so to ensure that no damages are incurred, the state government has listed protocols to be followed for tourists travelling to the state.
Welcoming tourists from all parts of the country, the dynamic chief minister gave out a message through Twitter- “Arunachal Pradesh opens today to welcome tourists. Get mesmerised by its beauty and rejuvenated by the purity of its nature. Those who dreamt- its time to explore…! Tourists visiting Arunachal Pradesh are requested to follow the new normal SOP,” Khandu tweeted.
At a recent interaction with the media, chief minister Khandu said that the State Tourism sector has suffered a lot in the last six months due to the pandemic, affecting the livelihood of thousands while also denting the State’s revenue collections.
“Tourism is one major source of revenue and employment. Keeping all considerations in mind, we have decided to open the state for tourists now,” said the chief minister.
At a recent tourism related meeting, Khandu also said that the North East would be next tourism hub of post-COVID India and that Arunachal Pradesh with its diversity both of geographic and demographic profiles can become a center of rural, cultural and adventure tourism.
In the meeting, the chief minister stressed that ‘connectivity’ is the backbone of tourism, and said that in the last 6 years, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, North East has witnessed a paradigm shift in its infrastructure development.
“We are committed to preserving our culture while walking the path of development. Our focus, therefore, is on pushing for tourism while keeping our culture and environment well preserved,” he added.
According to officials of the tourism department of Arunachal Pradesh, Khandu has been working on ways to ensure the increase in the flow of tourists to the state, as tourism ensures multiple benefits to the state-revenue, creating of entrepreneurs in newer areas, and job creation.
“The chief minister has taken up the issue of up-gradation of existing infrastructure and better connectivity in the state with the centre, and over the years there has been a lot of improvement in that area. Now the state tourism department is hopeful of receiving more tourists,” said an official of the state tourism department.
The official, however, added that the state lost several valuable months of the tourism season due to the Covid pandemic, and said that the state government is concerned about the tourism figures this current year.
“The state government has opened up the state for tourists but this has been done with caution as the state doesn’t want to take any risk, and so accordingly guidelines have been issued. To ensure minimal risk, only pre-booked package tours, done exclusively via local tours operators of the state will be allowed to operate, and thus all ground handling and tourist transport services, including pick up/drop, will also be authorised via local travel tour/agent operators,” said an official of the Arunachal Pradesh tourism department.
The other important guideline being the Inner Line Permit (ILP), and now visitors will need to provide four other additional documents—tour itineraries and vehicle details, COVID-19 certificate, tour booking slips, and details of the guide and driver.
A senior official of the Arunachal Pradesh government also said that the state government is planning a few events to promote the tourism potential in the state, and will plan and conceptualize that depending on the tourism flow till the end of this financial year.
“The state government is aware that the flow of tourists might not be upto the expectation this year, and so will brain-storm and plan promotional events to target more tourists in next tourism season,” said the official.
Meanwhile, according to sources, chief minister Khandu is also likely to meet the union finance minister and tourism minister to seek a revival package for the state’s tourism sector.