KOHIMA, Dec 5 (PTI): Northeast is unique and tourism is the future of the region, Union Tourism Minister K J Alphons said Wednesday. Addressing a gathering on the fifth day of the ongoing Hornbill Festival at Naga Heritage village Kisama here, the minister said it is a matter of great pride to see people coming together and celebrating happiness, the diversity of the country and “everything that is beautiful”.
He said Nagaland represents everything that is wonderful about the country — the colour, music, dance, textile and food — besides being an amazing destination. “Tourism is the future for Nagaland and the entire North East region. Kerala is Gods own country but this is Gods own paradise as such amazing people and hospitality will not be found anywhere in the world, he said.
Alphons said the Centre has sanctioned Rs 1,351 crore for the region as it believes that the northeast is really the window to the East. The Prime Ministers Look East policy is also focused on the region, he said. For Nagaland, he said, the tourism ministry has sanctioned ‘Swadesh Darshan’ project worth Rs 197 crore.
On connectivity issues of the region, Alphons said that he held talks with the civil aviation minister recently for starting helicopter service on the Guwahati-Dimapur-Kohima-Imphal route. The tourism ministry will compensate the losses incurred by the service providers but the move would improve air connectivity.
Asserting that the Centre is determined to create the basic infrastructure necessary to push tourism in the region, he claimed, the Modi government during the last four-and-a-half years have done more than what has been done in the last 65 years for the people of this country. We are spending more than Rs 15 lakh crore on creation of infrastructure. We have electrified every village and now giving free electricity connection to the poor people. Every poor citizen of India has access to medical facilities. They can walk into any private hospital and the government pays for it, he said. We are on a huge path of progress…India is the third-largest economy and we are becoming a global power, he said.
Maintaining that the tourism industry in India employs 84 million people, he said that during the last four-and-a-half years, the industry has created 13.92 million jobs. We are earning USD 234 billion (in tourism). We contribute 7 per cent to the countrys Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 13 per cent to employment. We are on the way to establish tourism as the biggest growth sector in the country,” he said. Alphons said the country has immense possibilities and the Centre is keen on working with the state governments. For instance, the Hornbill Festival can be displayed to the world. The government is keen on promoting it on the global map so that millions of people can witness the festival. The Hornbill Festival concludes on December 10.
Accompanied by his wife, the minister, during his maiden visit to the Hornbill Festival, also graced the traditional Naga stone pulling ceremony commemorating the silver jubilee celebration of Northern Angami Youth Organisation at Chiephobozou.
He also inaugurated the ‘Rhododendron Resort’ constructed under the ‘Swadesh Darshan’ project of the Tourism Ministry at Phesama village just above Kisama Heritage. Alphons, along with vice chairman of NITI Aayog Rajiv Kumar, also witnessed the cultural performances of the various Naga tribes. Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio and Advisor for Tourism, H Khehovi Yepthomi, guided the Union minister.