Tawang 19th Oct 2013:
Hon' ble Minister Tourism, Sh Chandan Brahma, Assam,
Hon' ble Minister Tourism, Sh Bhim Dungyal, Sikkim
Hon' ble Minister Tourism, Sh Pongteang, Nagaland
Hon' ble Parliamentary Tourism, Sh Prithviraj, Manipur
Sh Parvez Dewan, Secretary, Tourism Govt of India
Chief Secretary, Govt of Arunachal Pradesh
Delegates representing different countries
Delegates representing the Domestic travel industries
Officers and representatives of all the Northeastern States and West Bengal
At the very outset, let me take this opportunity to thank Government of India, particularly the ministry of tourism for choosing Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh to host the 2nd edition of the International Tourism Mart-2013.
I along with my Colleagues Sh Pema Khandu, Hon’ble minister and Sh PD Sona Hon’ble Parliamentary Secy Tourism extend our heartiest welcome to each one of you to Arunachal Pradesh.
It is indeed a very commendable initiative of the Ministry of Tourism to hold an International Mart exclusively to promote the North East India as a favoured tourist destination. I take this opportunity to congratulate the Ministry of Tourism for the same. No one can stop an idea whose time has come. The ITM is one such idea and I am confident that this initiative will grow from strength to strength in the years to come and realize its objective to project Northeast India as the most sought after destination of the world.
Dear friends, Northeast India which has been aptly referred to as 'the Paradise Unexplored', is indeed a destination with huge tourism potential that is yet to be tapped of its true potential. With such diversity not only in its geography but also in our way of life- Northeast India has a lot to offer to any tourist visiting this part of the country.
We have some inherent qualities such as our hospitality, festivities and while love for music and culture in our blood, which, if capitalized professionally can attract a lot of tourists.
Northeast India is a treasure house for adventure seekers- mountaineering, trekking, white water rafting, angling. You name it, we have it all here. For nature enthusiasts- Northeast India being the one of the last green zones of the world, its biodiversity is unparalleled. If one is interested in Culture- We have more than hundred tribes, each unique in its own way. Come to North east India and you will find what you seek.
North East India, particularly Arunachal Pradesh has massive tourism potential which is being tapped in a holistic manner and this event is a step in that direction.
My government has attached top most priority to promotion of the tourism sector, the only sector which could generate massive self employment avenues while enriching the state exchequer. A three-day job mela at my initiative was conducted at Itanagar recently to skill the local youths including tourism sector beside providing subsidized tourist cabs to engage local youths to boost the tourism sector.
It is needless to mention that this Himalayan state is a treasure trove of natural beauty inhabited by over 150 different hospitable tribes with their rich cultural mosaic, art and crafts, tribal cuisines which offer huge scope for the growth of tourism. The only hindrance has been inadequate infrastructures, like good roads and hotels and telecommunication facility for which I have been pursuing the central government sincerely besides taking up state projects despite limited resources. In next few years, the ambitious Trans-Arunachal Highway connecting Tawang to almost all district HQs upto Kanubari in far east Longding, four-lane highway, four-lane East West Corridor connecting Assam and Arunachal Pradesh would bring a sea change by removing all communication bottleneck.
Let me announce that I have been pursuing New Delhi for implementing the proposed tri-national highway linking Arunachal with Bhutan via Bleting and Myanmar via Pangsau Pass through the historic Stillwell road to link the rich South East Asian countries, where 50 per cent of the world's rich live. This would herald a new chapter for growth of international trade, tourism and would be a harbinger of bilateral relations among the nations of South East Asia and North East India. This would in turn serve as a panacea to end insurgency menace, mushrooming of youth organizations, avoidable crimes etc. confronting the region for lack of socio-economic development.
While Gopinath Bordoloi Airport at Guwahati has been made an international airport to facilitate air services to most of the South East Asian countries to give an impetus to the tourism industry, air services in this land-locked state would improve drastically with the operationalisation of seven airfields being upgraded by the Indian Air Force at Ziro, Tezu, Pasighat, Mechuka, Anini, Wallong and Tuting while the one at Vijaoynagar has been made operational in November 2011. While the Harmuti-Itanagar railway line is nearing completion while the Green Fields airports at Itanagar would be started soon which would improve connectivity to this land-locked state.
I appreciate the hospitable people of Tawang whose positive attitude has resulted in massive flow of tourists to this far off land against all odds. The innovative home stay facility and promotion of religious tourism besides the unmatched scenic beauty deserve applause. I appeal to the people of Tawang to maintain the spirit to make it a model for the country.
Dear delegates representing as many as 28 countries and also the members of our domestic travel industry, I hope you enjoy your stay and forge a lasting partnership with the representatives of the travel industry of Northeast India in generating good business for the region.
You have come here as strangers but must leave as friends. At the same time, I urge my colleague tourism ministers from all the Northeastern states including West Bengal and senior officers from Government of India and representatives from the participant states to make the most out of this mart and generate maximum business for the region. The role of media in projecting and educating the readers/viewers about the places of tourist interest in the region needs no emphasis. I am sanguine we are all geared towards this goal.
Lastly, as I mentioned earlier, with our limited resources we tried our best to provide all possible assistance, support and hospitality to our visiting guests but in any ways if we have failed in doing so due to linguistic problems, accomodation and communication gap, I on behalf of the state government of Arunachal Pradesh would like to appoligise to you all.
As I conclude, I once again wish all success of the Mart.