Rijiju bats for NE as ‘combined tourist destination’

Assam CM flags off Nok Air’s inaugural Guwahati-Bangkok flight

GUWAHATI: Union minister, Kiren Rijiju has said the Northeast has to make itself saleable as a “combined package” to woo tourists and also look for viable alternatives to sustain ventures in the long run.
“The culture and resource-rich Northeast cannot be looked at in an isolated manner. It has to sell itself as a combined package. All state governments of the region must formulate a unified tourism policy,” Rijiju said at a programme to mark the launch of Nok Air’s inaugural Guwahati-Bangkok (Don Mueang) flight here on Sunday.
“If we are to meaningfully woo tourists to the region, aspects like capacity building, connectivity (air, road and rail), and allied infrastructure have to be integrated and put in place to accommodate tourists. Besides, people-to-people contacts have to be established and the region has to open up more to the South East Asian countries,” he said.
The minister further said the twice-a-week flight schedule of Nok Air to Bangkok from Guwahati and back, must be scaled up to daily services.
A passenger on Nok Air will reach Bangkok from Guwahati in less than three hours.
Earlier, Assam chief minister, flagged off the first flight to Bangkok at the Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport in the wee hours of Sunday.
Sonowal viewed that introduction of the flight was not just an extension of airline route but more importantly a futuristic gesture, which would go a long way in reinforcing the cultural and economic ties between Assam and Thailand and strengthening bilateral relations.
“I am happy to learn that about 80 per cent of seats were occupied in the flight to Bangkok …But it should be 100 per cent and waiting. This has to be made viable in the long run,” Rijiju said, referring to a flight to Bangkok from Guwahati years back, which could not sustain itself.
Taking a dig at the culture of strikes, bandhs, chakkka jams and protests by some organisations, Rijiju said that this trend must stop to attract people to this beautiful region. “Some elements are hell-bent on tarnishing the image of Northeast. This ambience has to change to make Northeast an attractive tourist destination,” he said.
“The citizens, corporate houses and tour operators have to cooperate with the government to make Northeast a viable tourist destination,” the minister said.
The Union sports minister also touched upon the importance of an adventure policy. “I have asked my officials in my ministry to draft an adventure policy. I am trying to revamp a youth policy, giving a relook to the sports policy and Northeast will become focal point in the entire approach,” he said.
Principal secretary (tourism), Rajesh Prasad said emphasis should be made on improving two-way connectivity, and inbound tourism, which has been an area of concern to operators here, has to be augmented. “Passengers from other Southeast Asian countries should also be wooed to take the flight back from Bangkok to Guwahati,” he said.

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