Kohima: A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was inked between the Department of Tourism, the government of Nagaland and the Trade Promotion Council of India (TPCI) on Saturday evening for the operation of the State Institute of Hotel Management in Dimapur, during the inaugural ceremony of the 9th International Tourism Mart (ITM) for the North East Region held at the state banquet hall in Kohima.

As per the Tourism ministry, the MoU will provide new avenues to the local population of Nagaland and people from the Northeast.

The ITM, set to culminate on November 29, is aimed to highlight the tourism potential of the region in the domestic and international markets. About 75 sellers from the Northeast and 50 buyers from the country are participating in the Mart, besides students from across the country.

Ajay Bhatt, Minister of State for Tourism & Defence, said that there was a time when people feared visiting the northeast but times have changed. In this regard, he reiterated Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal that everyone should visit the North East as it has immense tourism potential.

“Many parts of this region are still untouched from the point of view of tourists. There is a huge potential of border tourism and wildlife tourism”, he said. As he urged the need to take domestic tourism forward, Bhatt hoped that the people would build connections and strengthen further ties with the region through the event.

Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio said that the event should bring together the tourism business fraternity and entrepreneurs from the Northeastern states, and give a boost to the sector in Nagaland and to the region.

Rio said that the ITM is the right initiative by the Ministry to promote tourism in the northeast. “It rightly showcases the great opportunity the cultural wealth and scenic beauty provides for the tourism sector,” Rio said.

He then hoped that the Northeast region will emerge as one of the favourite tourism and business destinations in India as he highlighted how the inflow of tourists into the northeast region has increased from 71.62 lakh footfall during 2014-2015 to more than 1 crore visitors in 2018-2019.

The CM encouraged the participants to deliberate and find new ideas to harness the full tourism potential in the Northeast Region, adding that with the united and concerted efforts of the eight North-East states and all stakeholders, the tourism industry will get the necessary boost.

Taking the opportunity, Rio also invited all people to enjoy the beauty of Nagaland and be a part of the Hornbill Festival celebrations. Speaking about the “festival of festivals”, he said that the mega festival provides an opportunity to the people of Nagaland to engage meaningfully with the rich cultures from various parts of the country and the world at a single place in Kisama where the ITM is being held.

Also read: MoS Defence Ajay Bhatt reviews security situation in Nagaland

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