Discussion on sustainable tourism in NE India at London : A report

Dr. Bishwajeet Elangbam *

Discussion on sustainable tourism in NE India on 17th june , at the Nehru centre , London
Discussion on sustainable tourism in NE India on 17th june , at the Nehru centre , London

I wish to share that I was fortunate to have been one of the panel representing Manipur at a discussion titled , ' Panel discussion Vision 2030: Tourism a driver of Sustainable Development in North East India.' On 17th june , at the Nehru centre , London . This event was organised by the Indian high commission , UK and incredible India .

The panel discussion brought together experts from the north east region living in the UK and others to contribute to developing a mission for the region to address the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of bigger Vision 2030.

It was big day for Manipur / Northeast India especially discussing a very futuristic concept of tourism especially at an european platform .

The discussion focus on tourism as an entry point to set out achieving some of the SDGs in the region. The outcome from the panel discussion aim to lead to a series of sector specific lectures and working groups that will work in line with the existing Act East policy of the Indian Government with a focus on the cultural diversity that the north east region brings to the rest of the world to appreciate.

I am Glad to share that everyone agreed that 'engaging the community ' and empowering the local people is the way forward . Surprisingly there was huge interest in about Blooming Manipur and its concepts and that is how the community participation idea got generated !!

The panels and speaker acknowledge that northeast India is the lesser known part of India and its image hasn't been helped by a media that seems to portray the doom and gloom stories . It is not suprising and everyone would agree with this 'lesser known' views as the locals doesn't even know about northeast India , especially when the current education hardly teaches about the region itself .

It was Agreed by many on 'demystifying' the northeast as an exotic place as the word itself are hints of racism and the place should be seen as just another normal place in India without the patronising mystifying and exotic comments !!

Discussion on sustainable tourism in NE India on 17th june , at the Nehru centre , London
Discussion on sustainable tourism in NE India on 17th june , at the Nehru centre , London

The panel and crowd were supportive to acknowledge that the signboard at the world's largest and oldest women's market, can mislead the tourist place as a 'bank' and is a part of the present day culture of marketing and modernity gone wrong .

The presence of 12 travels agents/companies shows that many are interested in visiting the 'flower on the lofty heights '( Lord Irwin, 1931 Qoute on his visit to Manipur) but the local people/govt should understand what tourist are interested and looking for .

Many are looking to experience the laughters and smiles in the many traditional festivals , explore the timesless rivers and lakes where some of the hardest working people live .

Tourist are wants to know how is it like staying in huts and Yumjao and be involved in fishing and visiting beautiful and sacred place .

They wants to listen to local ballads and operas in courtyards under the moonlight with scents of flowers/thaballei , mesmerising everyone . They want to dance to the music of Kut festival , join the laughter at the Luingaini harvesting celebration , join the sports at Gang-Ngai , ride a horse at the Lai-Haraoba festival etc

Discussion on sustainable tourism in NE India on 17th june , at the Nehru centre , London
Discussion on sustainable tourism in NE India on 17th june , at the Nehru centre , London

And most importantly tourist wants to see how hardworking indigenous people are working to safeguard the northeast with its unique identity . This unique identity of one's geographical area which unfortunately have been destroyed by modernity and not been seen in many other parts of India, apart from parts of Jaipur and Kerala .

I am glad I took the opportunity to welcome this 'sustainable /village ways' form of tourism to Manipur as it would help in saving the 'flower on the lofty heights ' before it dries up and die due to Act East's trucks and the malignant concrete jungle coming up everywhere .

One of the most inspiring comment was on Walking holidays in India, Nepal, Ethiopia | Village Ways U Walking holidays in India, Nepal, Ethiopia | Village Ways Tailor-made walking & discovery trips in India, Nepal & Ethiopia. Travel with Village Ways, renowned for its responsible, ethical, holidays. where tourist helps in bringing sociable and economic changes that directly helps the local population .

Thank you To Dr Dhabali Thangjam for the leaflets with regards to tourism in Manipur and Rajeshwor Yumnam for the insightful story on ww2 , which was shared with the participating audience and travel agents .

Some of the speakers who were part of the discussion - Dr Samantha Syiem-Clark, teaches International Development at the University of Sussex, Brighton; Founder and Director of Providence Foundation, UK a charity organisation supporting education in NE India.

Dr Daisy Hasan: research Fellow, India media centre at the University of Westminster; novelist and media producer.

Dr. Bremley Lyngdoh, the Founder of Worldview Impact and a climate change and sustainable development professional.

Sophie Ibbotson, an entrepreneur and consultant specialising in tourism development and promotion in emerging markets and post-conflict zones.

Let's hope , this imaginative form of tourism reached Manipur soon and transform our own places and experience of everyone including the tourist .

Thanking you

Bish Elangbam
Emergency physician , UK
Activist for Blooming Manipur

Discussion on sustainable tourism in NE India on 17th june , at the Nehru centre , London
Discussion on sustainable tourism in NE India on 17th june , at the Nehru centre , London

* Dr. Bishwajeet Elangbam wrote this article for
The writer can be contacted at biselangbam(AT)yahoo(DOT)co(DOT)uk
This article was posted on June 21, 2016.

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