Manipur May Lose The Title- ‘Switzerland of India’

Described by Lord Irwin as the 'Switzerland of India', Manipur might very well lose the title.

Manipur has been engulfed by atrocities; it seems quite odd to talk of things such as tourist and tourism industry. Yet, I am one of those people who have a passion to develop and promote tourism in Manipur under all circumstances, all odds, and all challenges. Other States in India which equally has similar problems including terrorism have done it, then why can’t we do this in Manipur. This is the question in my mind. We need immediate and aggressive methodology and marketing to attract domestic and international tourists to Manipur. New policies need be introduced which must be definitely implemented.

Looking into the facts and sadly considering the current scenario the policy maker seems to have not taken tourism in its true perspective as an industry for Manipur. There are different types of tourism and it has its own brand. A tourist destination in the world, whether it is Switzerland, Goa, Kerala, have over the years developed a brand name for themselves. Switzerland is known for its ‘˜European Splendor’, Kerala is known as ‘˜God’s Own Country’, Goa as a party destination. Manipur has been defined as the ‘˜Switzerland of India’. But the fact is that this brand or name may not be with Manipur after few years. In fact, in some blogs I have read about tourism in India, one person stated, Himachal Pradesh as the ‘˜Switzerland of India’. And that we can’t challenge them right now.

There are thousands of ways through which we can promote this industry. But the concerned people or individual must contribute their bits and pieces. I had the opportunity to visit the travel and tourism fair in Bangalore; it was the biggest travel and tourism fair in India and was hosted in Bangalore at Palace ground (14th to 16th Jan 2010). 17 States and 4 countries participated in this forum. This is the kind of platform where Manipur should have participated and showcased the tourism potential of the State and the Northeast India. But I was shocked to see that only one State from Northeast India was there in the fair, luckily, Meghalaya took the opportunity.

It is high time that Manipur compete with other States like Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir. These States had been marketing their places and products in the world trade and tourism fairs. Manipur has lots of selling points and potential (list is huge); therefore we must wake up, create the environment and promote ourselves aggressively in the world market. What we have is a potential unparalleled around the globe for a robust tourist industry. Manipur and Northeast India tourism industry is still yet to be explored and we must take this as an opportunity for developing our State. The current situation of Manipur is understandable (there are various sectors which need to be improved in order to pacify the tourism industry, it may be law and order, infrastructure or services) but at somewhere we have to initiate the process. And I believe that the time has come.

The purpose of writing this article is to aware all the concerned people to discuss the innovation process as applied to tourism, and to chart the paths that can lead us to growth and development. Such an opinion and debate is long overdue in tourism. Manipur is a paradigmatic example of a traditional, highly underdeveloped state that is suffering from various atrocities. Many observers believe that Manipur has high tourism potential. But one cannot just live on potential. We need to become proactive, to develop new products and processes that will make the future of Manipur as a leading tourism destination.

Many people are skeptical when it comes to the promotion of tourism by the State or individual. They have every reason to be, and as someone who has had to wrestle with this question each and every day, I understand as I have faced the same. We must not be so naive as to think that the State/individual has a magic wand it can wave to create the faltering motor of innovation to its highest performance level. But burying your head in the sand like the ostrich is not the answer either. And I believe that believes in facing the challenge head on ‘” taking the bull by the horns. Remember the quote, ‘˜Rome was not built in a day’. The question we must ask now is what is the Tourism Department of Manipur doing right now? As an individual what should we contribute? Are we doing enough?

We have to start now. Let make Manipur Switzerland of India not just by word but defined by its tourism industry.

*The article is written by Harjeet Sinam

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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