Leader Writer: Wangkheimayum Bhupendra Singh
A few days back, the Governor Vinod Kumar Duggal had formally opened a two day long eco-tourism conclave in the state capital. The Governor was accompanied by a host of personalities – authority on the subject – who had come from all over the country to help the state market itself as a tourist destination before the world and to become a tourist friendly destination. The conclave was opened on an ambitious note, as the Governor himself put it, it is hoped that the topics and issues discussed during the Conclave would help the state become better equipped to handle the difficulties and hardships faced in the efforts to promote the kind of tourism, which is environment friendly, sustainable and preserve the natural serenity and beauty of a place like Manipur. Although the conclave was designed to be specifically focused on eco-tourism, the delegates nevertheless touch on diverse aspects to develop tourism.
It is apparent that the State is gearing up to harness the potential of tourism in the state to give development a boost. And with the Governor’s announcement, the bugle has been sounded and now it is up to the government and the people that the efforts become fruitful and do not meet an abrupt end. Much has been said and a lot more written about the state’s potential in tourism and how much we can gain by endorsing tourism. For all the potential that the state has in tourism, it is also important to note that branding of a product is as important as what is inside the product. The beauty of the state lies not only in its scenic beauty, but is also augmented by the myriad of tribes and others inhabiting together in the hills and the plains with its unique diversity. Development of infrastructures alone cannot attract tourists into the state. The cultures, traditions of the many communities, the rustic lifestyle all pull in to make Manipur the land that it is. And this is how the state needs to be branded.
In his speech during the opening of the conclave, the Governor had also highlighted that the State Tourism Department is working in a sustained and systematic manner for harnessing the tourism potential of Manipur. If the government is really keen in developing tourism in the state, then there are certain things that need to be looked at. The state is confronted with several issues as of now, with many of them recognised as detriments to not only tourism but also to any form of development. However, the one issue that has caused much annoyance in the state and which everyone has not shied away from blaming is the law and order situation. Almost every problem confronting the state is either law and order problem or is indirectly linked to it. Once the government can prove before the world that the law and order situation in the state has improved considerably, tourist inflow would eventually grow. And once the issue of portraying a peaceful Manipur is accomplished, the government can add to it by improving accessibility to the state by improving communication and transportation avenues in the state. However, all of these need participation of the local populace. This is for both the government and people to understand that nothing is possible without active participation of the people.