Successful confluence of northeast travel trade at TTF Guwahati

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TTF concluded its 3-day maiden event in Guwahati, successfully paving a future for tourism in the northeast region. The event saw a huge participation from the state tourism boards as well as from NTOs like India and China. TTF Guwahati highlighted the major need of promoting the seven states of the northeast India along with Sikkim, West Bengal, Odisha as a whole package to attract more domestic and international tourists.

The members of North East India Tourism Confederation (NEITC) from entire northeast India assembled to discuss the challenges and strategies of promoting tourism in the region, at the conference held at TTF. The key objective of the confederation is to work with the governments to develop the tourism potentials of the region, create awareness of the industry and resolve problems faced by the tourism industry.

The conference was moderated by P K Dong and E B Blah, president of NEITC and had speakers including Dr N N Sharma,Vincent Belcho, S Dutta, Bhaskar Baruah, Zoliana, Tridib Sharma, Ellena Sharma and Nino. Speakers discussed various aspects of tourism such as policies for tax concessions, improved training of those employed in industry as well as marketing and developing the collective brand of the northeast.

“Look East policy is going to be your policy. It won’t be government’s policy, the entire initiative will lie with private enterprises,” said Dhrubo Hazarika, Secretary to the Government of Assam, Department of Tourism at the conference.  Speaking about the various opportunities the event helps to create he added, “I have gone to several TTFs in the country and in each of these I found the expansiveness of the reach has been tremendous.”

“The session was an eye opener. It is the starting of marketing efforts and strategies that can be adopted by the northeast. We are trying to connect with other states too, especially with eastern India like West Bengal, Odisha, and Bihar, but as far as the confederation is concerned, currently it is limited to these eight states. Also, associations here mean all stakeholders –combined with hoteliers, tour operators,” E B Blah, President, North East India Tourism Confederation (NEITC) remarked about the conference.

Vincent Belcho expressed his views during the conference,“Northeast India is still maintaining bright prospect in terms of tourism. Government should make huge investment to break the geographical isolation for northeastern Indian states. Proper tourism development is the need of the hour.”

N N Sharma added to that, “We need to be clear about our prospective tourists and micro niche segment, this will help in getting the larger picture.” While Tridib Sharma expressed, “Emphasis on proper planning, social media are key factors. We need to understand the market, the mind of tourists.”

Sanjiv Agarwal, Chairman and CEO of Fairfest Media, the organiser of TTF and Editor & Publisher of Travel News Digest in his closing presentation said,” We are very fortunate the timing is just right, like a constellation of stars coming brightly that a confederation of states has been formed. We have the Prime Minister already talking about working towards the development of east and northeastern states.” He also suggested creating a brand for the northeast region which will act as a strong foundation to set up a larger confederation. He also pressed on the topic of forming a public policy and how to market the region more successfully.

“It is indeed a very good platform for showcasing our potential and tourism products. It is really a privilege to be a part of this great event at Guwahati. Since long time we have been associated with TTF and Guwahati is a good source market for Odisha. Odisha Tourism is definitely getting a very good mileage for the first time in the northeast. We plan to have a kind of cooperation with the Assam Tourism Development Corporation and Assam Tourism and sign a MoU and hope to do better in days to come,” stated M R Patnaik, Director & Addl. Secretary to Govt. and Managing Director, OTDC Ltd.

“I think it is the correct step at this point of time to introduce the TTF in Guwahati. Guwahati deserves it because not only for Assam, it is the gateway to other northeastern states. I think you can learn from the experience of the first TTF and grow from there strength to strength. I think people have come to know that there can be a tourism fair and nice to know that so many states and private enterprises are showing their interest,” Chandana Khan, Special Chief Secretary, Govt of Andhra Pradesh commented. She further showed enthusiasm about the upcoming TTF Kolkata and TTF Hyderabad in July.

Li Qiangua Director, China National Tourist Office (New Delhi) stated, “Guwahati is a big city in northeast India and also a very important source market for China. China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines also joined us to come here to promote China Tourism. I think you have done very good preparations. And I do hope in future TTF will grow here and I am grateful for your support for China Tourism.”

Several awards were also given out at the event. Under the category of ‘Best Decoration Award – Big Pavilion’, Odisha Tourism and West Bengal Tourism bagged the title for their beautiful presentation and the perfect depiction of the states. While the award of ‘Best Decoration Award – Medium Pavilion’ went to Karnataka Tourism, Andhra Pradesh Tourism, Jammu & Kashmir Tourism, Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation Ltd, and Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Limited as they spread the essence of their respective states during the event. China National Tourist Office and Hotel Pine Spring won the titles of ‘Best Decoration Award – Booth’ for showcasing themselves perfectly.

‘Award for Contribution in Tourism’ (ACT) was presented to the North East India Tourism Confederation (NEITC) along with the constituting associations including Tour Operators Association of Assam (TOAA), Hotels and Restaurants Association of Assam (HRAA), Arunachal Pradesh Tour Operators Association (APTOA), Manipur Tourism Forum (MTF), Mizoram Tours and Travel Association (MTTA), Nagaland Tourism Association (NTA), Sikkim Association of Adventure Tour Operators (SAATO), Travel Agents Association of Sikkim (TAAS), Sikkim Hotels and Restaurants Association (SHRA), Confederation of Tourism Industry of Meghalaya (CTIM) and Tripura Tourism Development Forum (TTDF) for their huge contribution in the sector of travel and tourism in the northeast region of India. All the speakers at the conference have been honoured with ACT for their individual contribution in promoting the region.

Ex-officio awardees under ACT include Anjan Chakraborty, Director, Assam Tourism, Umapada Chatterjee, Director, West Bengal Tourism, and Sunil Agarwal, Joint Director, West Bengal Tourism. A special award has been presented to the Eastern Himalayan Travel & Tour Operators Association (EHTTOA).

Following the conference, Umapada Chatterjee, Director, West Bengal Tourism addressed the travel trade of TTF Guwahati. “We have great opportunity to extend and to increase the tourist footfall. We are trying to explore the capacity by connecting new airlines and particularly the foreign airlines,” said Chatterjee. He further urged all to visit West Bengal to experience the rivers, breathtaking beaches, world heritage site – Sundarbans with beautiful flora and fauna, offering adventure, rural, folk tourism and many more. The state is set to host the next TTF in Kolkata from July 4.