Imphal, October 10 2017: Even though the State’s tourism potential has been acknowledged by one and all, and the State Government started celebrating Manipur Sangai Festival since 2010 with the primary objective of projecting Manipur as a popular tourism destination, the volume of tourist inflow into the State has been fluctuating with little growth .
Altogether 1,32,571 tourists (1,31,803 domestic tourists and 768 foreign tourists) visited Manipur in 2012-13.A total of 1,45,647 tourists including 1,43,059 domestic tourists and 2588 foreign tourists came to the State in 2013-14, according to official data .
The corresponding figures for 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17 are 1,37,484 (domestic–1,34,584 and foreign–2900), 1,35,115 (domestic–1,32,013 and foreign 3,102) and 1,48,721 (domestic–1,45,685 and foreign–3,036) .
The State Government has been eyeing a thriving tourism industry in the backdrop of India’s Act East Policy with Manipur being the gateway to South East Asia .
With a view to give a major fillip to the fledgeling tourism industry, the State Government sponsored Shirui Lily Festival at Ukhrul and Shirui village from May 16 to 20 and Barak Spring Festival at Senapati from May 22 to 23 this year in addition to hosting the Manipur Sangai Festival every year .
However, on account of multiple factors, a large number of tourists have reservations in visiting Manipur, said some analysts .
According to them, Imphal West, Bishnupur and Churachandpur districts have greater tourism potential as compared to the other districts.
Both domestic and foreign tourists would be reluctant to visit Manipur if there is no adequate tourism infrastructure.
The Government needs to identify the tourism potential of each and every district and develop them uniformly .
Hospitality and accommodation infrastructure are two key elements of tourism, they said.
Political instability, frequent bandhs, blockades and general strikes are some major factors which put away tourists from visiting Manipur.
Unfamiliarity with Hindi is another negative point.
Prolonged imposition of AFSPA 1958 and the armed conflict situation although it has subsided considerably are two other major factors which create a feeling of uneasiness among tourists who wish to visit Manipur.
Although Protected Area Permit/Restricted Area Permit system was enforced in Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland, the same has been relaxed by a circular issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs .
Yet, citizens of Afghanistan, China and Pakistan must first obtain permission from the Ministry of Home Affairs if they should visit the three States .
Moreover, all foreigners visiting Manipur are required to register themselves at the Foreign Registration Office of the district concerned within 24 hours of arrival .
Given these restrictions, inadequate infrastructure and inconducive atmosphere, the volume of tourist inflow to the State has grown very little over the years.
Source: The Sangai Express