‘Tourism sector in NE to witness a boom’
Think tank from Bangladesh stresses the need for amendment in India’s visa policy
Tourism is the only sector that will boom in the North East in the coming years and the targets can be achieved by keeping the environment unharmed, Dr Akbaruddin Ahmad, chairman of Policy Research Centre in Dhaka sounded confident as he spoke with Sunday Monitor in the library of Asian Confluence in the city. Ahmad was in Shillong for the 6th Annual Conference of the North East India Commerce and Management Association at Shillong College.
As Ahmad spoke about the potential of the tourism sector, he emphasised the need for entrepreneurial spirit among the youth in the region. “Once a prolific scholar told me that he encourages his students to create jobs and not hunt for one. Be an entrepreneur. Think out of the box. That was my message too at Shillong College,” said Ahmad.
One of the papers by Jobayer Hossain, deputy registrar at Darul Ihsan University, and published by Ahmad’s research centre, points out, “At present, world tourism industry appeared as a competitive and promising sector. It is not only that tourism sector earns foreign currency but also tourism creates image of the country and cultural diversification.”
With every state in the North East having a unique culture, tradition and history, the region has much to showcase to the world. And this could be achieved through the proper promotion of tourism backed by a well-crafted policy. The respective state governments have to play a crucial role in doing so. Meghalaya has already prepared a draft tourism policy that advocates niche tourism that would be eco-friendly and sustainable.
According to Ahmad, governments should promote eco-tourism to a great extent and rope in rural communities in this endeavour. “In Bangladesh, we are interacting with villagers in the selected tourism sites and training them. We are asking them to build basic amenities, such as clean toilets and decent accommodation so that they can cater to foreign tourists. This way, a visitor gets the chance to explore the beauty of an unconventional place and villagers earn a livelihood,” he said.
However, he asserted that to attain sustainability in any business, there should be a cut-off point where governments have to monitor the functioning of businesses. It is possible to protect the environment while also encouraging development in the sector, he observed.
But Ahmad was critical of India’s visa policy that would discourage tourists, especially those from Bangladesh. “People in Bangladesh are great travellers. But if they find inconvenience in a country, then why do you think they will come back? They can go to some other country,” he said, adding that India should start issuing visas on arrival.
He pointed out that the Indian High Commission “takes a month to issue a visa” and there should be a provision for online application. With a hassle-free visa policy, the North East stands to gain from the tourist footfall.
During his keynote address at the seminar titled ‘Sustainable Development: Business Policy and Management Practices’ at Shillong College, Ahmad laid down these points and urged the young participants to be enterprising and take advantage of the tourism boom.
Dr E. Kharkongor, principal of Shillong College who was among the several eminent speakers during the event, said deliberations during the seminar on Sustainable Development will give a fruitful outcome for policymakers.
~ Team Sunday Monitor