|Ama Ranjan Dey, |
Assistant Professor Commerce
Tourism in Nagaland: An Untapped Market
This winter the Commerce Department of Tetso College went for an exposure trip to Lonavla (a hill station near Pune) and Goa. All of us enjoyed the trip, and most of my students are proposing for another excursion to a new place in the coming year. So, as a Commerce teacher I began to ponder deeper. We are ready to bear the expenses of travelling to view and admire the natural beauty of another state. Similarly, do other tourists feel the same about viewing and enjoying the beauty of our State? Ours is a mountainous region with an interesting topography. One of the major assets of our State is its natural beauty, which manifests itself in the lush green vegetation, having a diverse flora and fauna, and deep valleys with clean rivers, amidst natural lakes, terrace cultivation, and relatively pleasant climate. In addition, we have a vibrant tribal culture reflected in folk dances, music, festivals, and handicrafts. These are major tourist attractions. Given these array of choices, we are no less in natural beauty compared to cities like Lonavla.
The only difference I notice is the mindset of the people in Nagaland, and the lack of proper strategies for promoting tourism systematically and effectively. The only time tourists visit the State is during the first week of December. This is because our Government is desirous of promoting tourism once a year and has embarked upon an ambitious project to exploit the cultural assets of the state. Hornbill Festival has been aptly tag-lined as “Festival of Festivals” to encompass the collective celebration of the colours and vibrant elements of all the tribal festivities, and give a glimpse of the Naga life. I believe tourism is the only industry in Nagaland that has the potential to grow if given the right thrust and political commitment.
The need of the hour is to identify the tourist circuits without tribal and political considerations, and develop them as much as possible. The local community must be trained to capitalise on this. Without proper training, sensitization, and a community sense of ownership, even gold and silver won’t mean a thing to us. We need to do the publicity and market it effectively. If the hotels are full than we can always pitch tents and camps, but let the tourists know they can visit Nagaland. Let us train our young people and help them learn to face challenges.
Tourism in Nagaland may not be able to boast of heritage buildings, educational tourism, and wellness tourism currently, but we do have what many others do not, and that is the scope for rural tourism. Rural tourism is a variant of ecotourism, in which the tourists come to visit and experience the rural setup. Opportunities exist in eco-tourism, anthropological tourism, and ethnic culture tourism. Setting up of more tourist resorts, private air taxi services, tour and travel packages are ideas that must be considered. This would lead to the augmentation of present tourist influx.
Our state does have some wonderful sites which are always of interest to tourists. Heritage sites like the ruins of the Kachari Kingdom in Dimapur are alibi to the monolithic culture of the region. The famous Kohima War Cemetery commemorates the soldiers who sacrificed their life in one of the fiercest battles of World War II- The Battle of Kohima. Other places of interest include the scenic Dzükou Valley, Japfü Peak at Kohima, Saramati Peak at Tuensang; all of which expose us to the extremely beautiful natural environment that exists in serenity. The tourist village at Khonoma, Shilloi Lake at Phek, Intanki Wildlife Sanctuary at Peren, and the Zoological Park in Dimapur also have great potential for the tourism industry. In the special supplement page of Nagaland Post dated 17th January 2016, the Shilloi Management Committee (SMC) stressed on the historic and scenic beauty of Shilloi Lake. The article also pointed out to the facilities made available for visitors- guest houses, meeting halls, playground, helipad, etc. These amenities can truly attract tourists.
“India’s North East – Paradise Unexplored”, is the punch line used by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, in promoting tourism in North East region. I wish our state Nagaland too could be separately promoted in the media. In addition, development of other facilities like a rope way, rock climbing facilities like that in Darjeeling and other parts of the country, and horse riding facilities as is found in Kufri - Shimla can help boost tourism.
Therefore, in order to develop tourism in the state, there is a need of co-ordination between the factors determining the growth of tourism industry viz the government, the local people, the media and the department of tourism, Nagaland. Finally, the most important of them is to popularize the tourism attractions of Nagaland and to create a tourism friendly environment throughout the state.