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New schemes for Sivasagar, Majuli Tourism development

By Correspondent

JORHAT, Feb 22 � Stressing the importance of promoting river tourism, pilgrimage tourism, heritage tourism and rural tourism in historic Sivasagar and the Vaisnavite treasure house of Majuli, the State tourism department�s top officials here on Saturday said they would shortly implement some new schemes for launching cruise-tours in Dikhow river, besides providing adequate number of guides and accommodation for tourists visiting these two popular destinations.

Participating in a technical session on the topic �Tourism: A Potential Game Changer for Assam� at the ongoing Assam International Trade and Industrial Fair, many dignitaries, including additional chief secretary (transport and tourism) VS Bhaskar, secretary of tourism department Ashutosh Agnihotri, managing director of the Assam Tourism Development Corporation Limited (ATDCL) Manik Chandra Sarma highlighted several important issues for attracting foreign and domestic tourists to the State.

According to ATDCL data, the State received 19,953 foreign tourists and 44,38,870 domestic ones in 2014 which was higher than its previous year�s data. A total of 41,43,776 domestic tourists and 16,134 foreigners visited the State destinations in 2013.

Though the inflow of tourists have encouraged the officials and stake-holders alike, the potential is yet to be tapped because of inadequate plans, facilities and the lack of proper functioning of public-private partnership (PPP) ventures in several destinations which are even repeatedly preferred by the foreign tourists for natural beauty, monumental charisma and many other reasons.

As Sivasagar and Majuli belong to such attractive destinations for a big number of foreign and domestic tourists, the tourism department has decided to explore the untapped potential of earning revenue through river tourism and adding extra infrastructure facilities.

�I will ask Sivasagar deputy commissioner soon to submit a proposal for starting cruise-tours in Dikhow river. It will help us to attract a large number of tourists who throng the historical town every year,� said Ashutosh Agnihotri. He also said that his department will engage adequate number of tourist guides, mainly in those areas like Majuli where thousands of foreign tourists arrive during the festival season every year.

Once such a new project is launched properly in Dikhow, a huge amount of revenue can be expected from tourists who always prefer adventurous activities during their visit to this land of red rivers and blue mountains. Moreover, due to insufficient accommodation in Majuli, many tourists face problems during the period of massive inflow and many times they take shelter in the residences of the local people who despite their hardship try their best to serve the guests honourably. It could be overcome once the new infrastructure for accommodation comes up.

Besides river, heritage, pilgrimage and rural tourism, the State government has planned to implement some new initiatives for promoting segments like tea, golf and sports tourism across Assam. For this, an amount of Rs 24 crore has been earmarked for the tourism department. The State has 850 tea gardens and 20 golf courses and the department will try to explore the opportunities for earning extra revenue from tea and golf tourism, said a senior official.

Along with the tourism departments officials, managing director of private-partner Jungle Travels Ashis Phookan, president of the Tour Operators Association of Assam Debajit Kumar Borah, principal of Nagaon-based Food Craft Institute Bornali Borooah Chakravorty and many other dignitaries were also present in the programme.

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