Tourism & Sangai Festival

Thoudam Imomacha Singh *

Day 10: Sangai Festival 2014 : Concluding Show at BOAT :: November 30 2014
Day 10: Sangai Festival 2014 : Concluding Show at BOAT :: November 30 2014

Tourism, in fact, has become the world's biggest industry today. It is because more and more people go away from their home for a short break of time, so that they could see new things at new places. In the olden days, tourist happened to be explorers of new countries and some others might have taken a short break to visit health resorts.

Tourists are, indeed, travellers who reach different destinations so that they could reach and see religious shrines of the time. There is historical account, in the 18th century Europe, young aristocrats used to venture "Grand Tours" visiting places related with classical antequities.

As a matter of fact, before the advent of modern transport, travel was, indeed, a painstaking exercise. People had to travel long distances on foot, even taking the risk of facing bandits as well as wild animals too. And therefore in the olden days, only those who were afluent could effort a comfortable travel.

Thomas Cook a Baptist missionary (1808-1892) is said to have started a career in tourism in 1841, when he introduced a train service for a party of missionaries. It was in 1855 that he was organizing trips to the "Paris Exposition" accomplishing the "Grand Tour of Europe" and it was this Thomas Cook, who founded the earliest travel agency in the world. Since then the travel agencies all over the world have been highly developed today, dedicating themselves to facilitating tours, booking tickets and hotels to provide the holiday-makers the best possible comforts.

In fact people have been on the move, since the prehistoric times, initially to find food or land to settle or to take up trade and commerce and even exploration or for pleasure. There were indeed people, who had travelled huge distances in order to get rid of threat or oppression.

However, it was only since the 19th century with the advent of modern transport system that mass travel had become widely popular. In accordance with some tourism statistics as early as 1990 there were altogether 425 million tourists all over the globe.

Nowadays, many people prefer independent travel to organize tourism, particularly the young people travelling on a tight budget for a long period of time. Backpackers prefer to take limited luggage and they travel cheaply, depending on local transport, camping and buying food in local shops and stores.

In this way it is possible to explore remote and exotic regions that have been lying untouched earlier. Besides being tourists there are a number of factors that can keep people on the move also. For example, famine, war and conflict have displaced millions of people all over the world driving them out from their homes.

They are forced to take asylum or refuge in other countries and in case they do not get it, many of them remain stateless. Often refugees have to leave their homes quickly and thus they take things that they can carry easily on their back. During the 1980s the plight of the refugees was highlighted by the Vietnamese boat-people, who fled their country for fear of being prosecuted.

The forthcoming Sangai Festival 2015:

The Sangai festivity is in the offing next month and the recent statement given a state bureaucrat not less than the chief secretary that Manipur Government is fully prepared to complete the construction of the Sanjenthong bridge over the Imphal river, well ahead of the ensuing "Sangai Festival 2015", to facilitate the festival viewers.

Last year also the state Chief Minister had given a similar word that the bridge in question would be ready before the festival had begun. Unfortunately, the statement had been turned into a gainsay.

It was amazing, who prompted the CM to offer a false statement at that time? Now, the auspicious inauguration of the newly constructed Sanjenthong bridge would be the curtain-raiser to the Sangai festivity.

The prime objective of instituting an extravaganza like the "Sangai Festival" is to promote tourism in Manipur and invigorate the state economy. Therefore, the Sangai Festival is one of the most important showcases that we have.

Manipur is well endowed with picturesque landscapes but the state lacks resource and infrastructure to build big industries like a Thermal Power Project or an Iron and Steel Industry or a manufacturing factory of essential goods. Therefore, our only priority is to develop "Tourism Industry".

Hospitality business like hotels, restaurants are another industry which has to go hand in hand with tourism. It is another disadvantage that the State Government cannot compete with private hoteliers in this business. We need experts to study this aspect of things. Manipur does not have adequate infrastructure that can mesmerize world class tourists.

The fact of the matter is, most of the tourist spots in Manipur are underdeveloped and ill-equipped till now. Such a disadvantage is to be dislodged as quickly as possible.

In this respect the present state of affairs at the Keibul Lamjao National Park, where a rear species of the blue antlered deer is preserved, is deplorable. There is no tourism or tourism facilities in this National Park, which is much below a national status. Immediate attention of the State Government is drawn towards this symptomatic blunder.

The Loktak lake is a rare kind among lakes, not only in our country, but also all over the world. A fresh water lake means, a lake gifted to the people of Manipur by Mother Nature. Such an eco-friendly lake could not be adequately developed to reach the status of a world class tourist attraction till now due to many reasons comprising ignorance, inefficiency and corruption of the many ruling dispensations that have taken charge of the "State" one after another for such a long time.

We need a Government which has transparency, accountability and vision.

* Thoudam Imomacha Singh wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao
The writer is a former broadcaster of AIR Imphal. He can be reached at imomachasingh(aT)gmail(doT)com
This article was posted on October 29 2015.

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