Assessing the Varying Dynamics of Tourism Development in Manipur: Interrogating National and State Policies

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Image credit: http://www.incredible-northeastindia.com/manipur/

by Moirangmayum Naresh Singh 7 May 2019

Introduction

Tourism is one of the biggest industries in the 21st century as it is even expecting to grow faster in coming centuries. In various tourist hot-spots across the globe, transportation and communication and other allied services are always well upgraded. In addition, attentions are is being paid to infrastructural developments and cleanliness. The core intentions of such drastic changes on geographies are to enhance its visibility on the tourist map. Tourism sector has been possessed with incredible potentials which could even boost enterprises in tertiary sector too, for instance the chain of hotel, gastronomic etc. Undoubtedly, tourism plays an immense role in the socio-economic and cultural integration. (Manipur govt., 2013)

Manipur was described as the “Jewel of India” (Nehru 1963). The state of Manipur is bounded by nine ranges of bluish-green hills. Lady St. Clair Grimwood had enlightened the beauty and charming nature of Manipur in her book of “My three years in Manipur” (Grimwood, 1892). In her book she described Manipur as ‘A beautiful place more attractive then snow places in the whole world’. The state shares the international border with Myanmar. Through various domestic tourism programs and internationally organized tourism plans, it activates the multicultural exposure towards the outside tourists. Moreover, the heritage and culture tourism programs made enlarged the application and acquaintance of sculptures, artifacts and constructions. This brings on the requirement to well-maintained the numerous symbols for antiquity of different communities. Manipur has enormous possible in the growth of tourism sector with its massive cultural and religious, heritage and diverse natural attractions, being a small state in the north eastern corner of India Manipur plays a moderately small role in the national tourism scenario. The tourism plans, that are being proposed in last few years, contains various initiatives that might lead to some substantial employment opportunities, regeneration of environment and even women empowerment which will lead to the advancement of economic structure. Also, these policies will lead the vibrant youths to produce employment significantly. Through various high capacities, Manipur had already established plans for the forthcoming institute of hotel management’s tourism related marketing which will bring employment opportunities. The employment opportunities for the youths will play an important role in balancing the state’s law and order and even in decreasing various rebellion issues.

Manipur got its tourism as an industry position in the beginning of the year 1987. Since then, government has been discussing and arguing about the developing of tourism industry in the state. The tourism policies have been planning to give sufficient effort to the development. Moreover, these plans have been giving numerous energies in the development of various sectors like marketing, profile-raising and market investigations. After initiating Look East Policy, the government of India is giving more importance in the state of Manipur and its tourism policy. The government focuses more on the construction of Trans-Asian Highways and Railways. Unfortunately, the progress of work is very slow and 90 % of work is still pending.  In some contemporary look, the Indian government is taking benefit of the advancement in these regions by generating a unique variety to the market of Manipur tourism, so called as ‘Gateway to South East Asia’. From this very step, significance, attractiveness, deliberate location and marketable characteristics will become easier to move forward. It is worth to believe that if the infrastructure and services over the state is appropriately placed, then Manipur has the potential to convert to a destined tourist hotspot in South-East Asia. (Manipur govt., 2011)

The main objective of the present study is to examine the significance and various roles of the development in tourism with special reference to the state of Manipur. It further classifies the initiatives taken up by the state government and central government for the upgrade as well as branding the state as a famous tourist spot. Moreover, it is making us a big challenge to classify basic mechanisms of tourism growth as well as various proportions for instance cultural, historical and natural with respect to Manipur. Precisely, the main objectives of this paper are as follows: to explore and identify the potential for tourism development in Manipur, to assess and observe the problems and challenges being faced by the tourism sector in the state, to assess and acknowledge the socio-economic benefits of tourism in Manipur and to analyzed the design and implementation of the state and national policies for the tourism development in Manipur.

The Central and State Tourism Policy

The main motive and mission of Manipur tourism policy 2013-14 was to take Manipur’s tourism industry to a new level and to dominate over the rest industries. This policy gives rules and regulation regarding the exploration of more tourist spots and to attach with the maintenance of any tourist spots. The mission includes the sanction for the construction and buildings of guesthouses, cafes, communication, heritage compound, handiwork and hand-loom, and other various trade activities in the nearby area of any tourist spots. This plan is also giving a huge opportunity to the local community in terms of jobs, which at least will reduce the unemployment problem inside the state. Creation of various prominent and vigorous tourism spots by fulfilling modernize, deliberate and organized methods was also a big mission of this policy. The tourism industry of Manipur seeks to control over the various ranges of tourist spots, provide proper accommodation during the time span of a tourist and to generate different types of staying paths for a tourist to feel comfort. The mission provides a commercial network giving a good opportunity to different tourists and package advisers.

The policy tends to move forward in the development of the state through the tourism industry and making a good network of marketing among the various sectors. It also tends to transform Manipur a promising tourist spot inside and out the country, letting the tourist to experience in a totally new and exceptional way. These steps are made to bring the state’s development and success each and every civilian in the state.

The principles that are being proposed in the 2013 tourism policy are:

  • The state will be fully developed if the Trans- Asian highway number 1 passing through the state of Manipur is well performed, it is a big consideration from the Look east policy of India. This will help in the bringing outside tourist through different modes of transportation like railways and air travelling. The major challenge of the state might be the fulfilling of the desires of the tourist and giving protection to them while they are exploring.
  • In India’s State like Manipur, even though it is being comprised by abundantly found rare flora and fauna, the advancement possibility in this very tourism sector is comparatively less. There needs a development in tourism industry in order to provide job opportunities and to create a better way of income making the poverty ended up. The plans is giving possibility to make encouragements in the growth and raise of the industry inside the state itself.
  • The industry of tourism is capable to give various job opportunities indirectly and directly to the local people. It seeks to keep the tourism industry above the rest sectors like trade and agricultural industries. Opportunities like promotion of handicrafts and handlooms product being made by the local indigenous inhabitants, which are still the weaker section in the state of Manipur.
  • The principle talks about the improvement in the inter connection between the agencies and departments, which are decisive in nature to establish. It aims at the establishment and association amongst the privatize sectors like local Non-Governmental Organizations, Civil aviation systems, local clubs and many others.
  • A tourist from outside and inside the country often predicts that the North Eastern region of India as a transmissible area. So, in order to maintain a good connection with the other North Eastern neighboring States, the Manipuri government should always keep a bond and harmonic relation. Even a good connection and corporation should be started not to bother the travelling of the tourist.
  • In order to set the unused resources in its best form there should be project prioritization for the two main things constructions and tourism spots.
  • Advertisement and profile-raising should be kept as a fundamental motive of tourism. These two motives are needed to keep the profile of tourist spot in high level.
  • One of transitional motive of the policy is giving a good and comfortable accommodation to each and every tourist. The tourist destinations should made at world class to keep the attraction more. In order to keep this the public and private partnership as well as relationship should be in a good flow.
  • The policy should be made in order to give assistance to the local peoples. The youths that are being influenced by unemployment problems should be given job opportunities. Conserving the rare traditional customs, empowerment of local illiterate women, promoting the artistic works of local indigenous people, these perspectives are the main reason to improve the income in the state.
  • The privatize sectors is strongly taking over in various aspects of tourism industry. So, it is very necessary to know the roles that a private sector is performing in our society. Manipur tourism should be concerned with the development of its own society, government doing works leading and major involvement and helps from the private sectors.
  • Development of a supportable and accountable tourism is the main pillar of the tourism plan to safeguard and preserve the tourist spots. This might take a longer or shorter period of time but the policy should moderate hostile influences towards the growth of tourism in the state.
  •  One of the supreme agendas of the policy made by the government is the safe and security of any tourist. Since the state have unstable law and order situation, there needs a careful process in the promotion of tourism. The state has insurgency problems just like the problems being face by a tourist in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The government, in both state and central, should make tide security for a tourist to feel comfortable and should try to make the law and order system more stable. The tourism, as mentioned above, gives job opportunities which will help in decreasing the involvement of a youth towards the insurgent groups. This logic should be well acknowledged by the government.
  • Manipur tourism should always pay attention to any coming prospects and must be ready to perform an energetic part to put the state in world class level.
  • The policy should follow the most important aspect of a good tourism spot such as surroundings, security and safely, shelters, statistics, hygienic cuisines, friendliness and unity, most importantly a good transference and many other more.
  • The tourism industry of each and every state in the north eastern region of India should move forward by forming body and establishing various conferences regarding the development of tourism in each state. The government of India should always be ready to support the unity of these states.
  • The foods and the goods that are being made by the local inhabitants will properly be revealed and sell if the tourism is promoted to a world class level.
  • Since Manipur is situated in a perfect place for the adventure tourism, it will be effort and glory for the tourism department and PWD section. It inspires the department and resulted in making the adventure tourism more attractive.
  • Through the contact with various investors the tourism department should always put different plans to upgrade the hospitality from time to time.
  • The state and the central government should enforce various rules and regulation towards the accommodation and travelling agencies and on the other side this agents should be encouraged.

The following are the main aims of tourism policy…

  • Launching various job opportunities to the local people.
  • To promote sympathetic relation amongst the people of Manipur.
  • Providing social and economic benefits to the indigenous communities.
  • Conserving and advertising the traditional and natural customs.
  • Sustainable development.

Among these objectives, maintaining natural resources to attain sustainable development is one of the most important objectives. Earlier there was a low cost of employment creation in the tourism sector and irrespective of the fact that Manipur tourism had so much of potential, it was not given much exposure. Now the new tourism policy pursues to enlarge the tourism in such a manner that it will facilitate not only domestic but also foreign tourist and also keeping in mind the preservation of the culture and also the minimization of the corrupting the flora and fauna.

Tourism is a multidimensional activity which includes not only one sector but also both the public and private sector. The government plays a very huge role when it comes to the tourism sector, such as it ensures the type of tourism which is in compatible with not just the environment but also the social cultural scenario of the state. It also provides an opportunity for the tourism to flourish and also combined marketing with the industry. Few more functions it carries forward while promoting the tourism is ensuring availability of power for all the tourism projects, infrastructure facilities, availability of trained man power which includes the local population etc. (Manipur govt., 2013)

When we talk about tourism, sustainable development is the main perspective we have to look out throughout the process which stipulates development. Keeping in mind also the adoption of the new technologies required while the keeping the development of the tourism pace. The government of Manipur is yet to set up centers from where we can exchange currencies, the centers to cater to various needs of the revelers and also to seek information about the tourist centers in the state.

Tourism Potentials and Emerging Trends in the State of Manipur

Manipur, being an oval shaped valley, is surrounded by nine ranges of bluish-green hills, characterized by clearly flowing rivers, charming scenery, flooring of enchanting flowers, bizarre blossoms and mighty lakes make the state more inspiring to move forward and its described as the ‘Switzerland of the East’. Manipur shares its international border with Myanmar, and is soon set to become the gateway to the south-east Asia, due to the importance it has in the India’s look east policy, this will definitely in turn attract the tourist from all over. It includes tribes such as the Meiteis, Nagas, Gorkhas, Mizo, etc. The indigenous tribes have been worshiping their deities and also the folk dances, and several indigenous tribal games and martial arts is also practiced in the region.

Manipur is also known for its rich culture which includes the Pung Cholom, and Manipuri folk dance. Being amongst one of the seven sister states, Manipur plays as a tourist attraction for people from all over the world, with its moderate climate, luscious greenery and beautiful lakes, Manipur is one of the states with a very rich heritage culture. The state’s main reason for attracting the tourist is not just its flora and fauna but also due to its pilgrimage sites. Most of the temples in Manipur are built on following the Brahmanical rules of the Vaastu Shastra, following with the architectural style resembling the Bengal temple architectures. The Keibul Lamjao National Park is characterized by many floating decomposed plants known as phumdis, which makes the park unique from other national parks. The national park is also the home two rare species the Brow-antlered deer (dancing deer) and Nongin (the Hume’s Pheasant). In the middle of the capital city there lies the statue of Shahid Minar, made for those brave hearts who fought viciously and sacrifice their lives in the Revolt of Meiteis in 1891. Lastly, the Loktak Lake known for its unique floating parks and is characterized by various unique floras and faunas. With all these potentials the tourism industry have huge scope to move forward. Even though Manipur is rich in culture and tradition, it does have a lot of problems. (Kalpana &team, 2017)

Emerging Opportunities and Challenges

The domestic and international tourists needs to be provided various facilities including accommodation, food and transportation. So, in a state like Manipur, a well-developed and promoted program should keep forward in order to make the state an exceptional and modest tourist destination. The government should make policies for the proper maintenance and security of the exotic culture, rare flora and fauna. The government itself should invest more in the exploration of various tourist spots that are being abandoned in the remote areas. These are the main reasons behind the famous and world class tourist spots.

The travelling and the pleasure experienced by a tourist from the world of nature is known as the tourism of nature. Nature gives us various types of pleasure and enjoyment from time to time, season to season. Rarely happening natural occurrence like hot spring make the popularity of a spot to reach its zenith. The maintenance of these rarely occasions are upon the local inhabitants. The local head of a community, various agencies and the individuals who are fond of supporting the natural tourism always find better ways to make good relations with the higher authorities. The natural productivity or output, quality in a public is closely link to the sustainable nature.

The abundantly found rare plants and animals can take Manipur to a successful level in building different types of natural ecological tourism. The various activities that are being forced to regulate by the ecological tourism policy and the task forces in the surrounding of two main tourism spots, Keibul Lamjao National Park and Loktak Lake, aims and concentrate on the improvement of practices in ecological tourism by a tourist and giving proper security to maintain and preserve the spots. (Akoijam, L. S. & Meitei C. I. 2017)

The only floating park in the world is situated in Manipur known as Keibul Lamjao National Park. This place is the one and only home of the rarest type of deer called Sangai and plays a big role in promoting the tourism development of Manipur. Important steps are needed to be taken up in order to give proper guidelines to tourist and groundwork at the spot itself, this will bring to proper enjoyment for a tourist coming from inside or outside the state. Manipur have numerous tourist spots that are still abandoned and explored in far remote areas. The villagers near in remote areas are still unaware of the benefits of tourism and the impact given by tourism our social and economic sectors. So, the villagers need various types of information and promotion in this very arena and the department of tourism should take the full responsibility at any condition. Well experienced person should be kept in order to give good promotion about tourism. The industry shall put various standards in order to maintain supportable tourism. In any kind of policies and plans, that the government is taking up for the development of tourism, then the above steps should be proposed and let it operated to keep the various unexplored spots prosperous and attractive.

The main reason behind the up-gradation of the Natural Eco-tourism is to keep the cultural and biological diversity throughout a long period till distant futures. This helps in the preservation of our surrounding ecosystem. It promotes the job opportunity to the indigenous civilians which stands as a big success for the affordable use of biodiversity. The natural Eco-tourism always lowers down the influences brought by tourism itself. The plans are being regulated properly to keep the homegrown ethos, plants and animals striking the view for every tourist. Through this tourism, the regions are able to maintain the cleanliness and proper waste management which makes the place to become an extravagance and classic area. The Eco-tourism, unlike every other tourism, it is an economically very beneficial for to those indigenous inhabitants of the region like Manipur.

The varied forms of natural, cultural and traditional possessions are one of the main features of strength in the state of Manipur. The Loktak Lake and the one and only home of the rarest types of flora and fauna, the Keibul Lamjao National Park is worth to mention as a tourism strength of the state. The medical tourism and exploring opportunities are performing in its best and thoughtful way, making most of the tourist attractive for adventure. The most important strength is that the state of Manipur is being bordered with Myanmar and is connected through the town of Moreh.

Transportation is the foremost weakness in the state. Inconvenience in transportation is making the state lagging behind. Beautiful spots that are lying in the remote areas are being abandoned due to the bad road construction. This always happened in the hilly and village areas due to the less view from the government. The less constructed infrastructure makes a huge issues to the visitors regarding the accommodation. In some areas there is very less divulging of markets that are being created by tourism industry. The state government should fully functionalize the rules and regulation regarding the permit system of travelling; this helps in getting full security by a tourist from the governmental side. Since the state is affected by various insurgent groups, a tourist at least needs a proper place for accommodation and full protection when he or she is exploring the spot. But in states like Manipur the tourist don’t get the security as they expected, many rules have been made to improve since last decade.

The connection of all tourist around world is needed, if the route that are being made by them is perfect then it takes less time to the improvement of employment, tourism and marketing. Manipur, being contained and comprised by various exotic beauties of nature, is still left with unexplored natural potentials. If all this unexplored area is getting proper maintenance and focus from the higher authority then Manipur will easily become world class tourist spot for nature and journeys. Since the region is having full of traditional, historical and cultural legacies, Manipur can easily transform into a more exotic place mostly in terms of pilgrimage and cultural tourism. The tourism gives a big break to the employment of those inhabitants, trip machinist and many more privatize sections, moreover in the present days they started to involve in large scale and take a big role in branding the tourism of Manipur. (Akoijam, L. S. & Meitei C. I. 2017)

The state of Manipur will be able to reach a prominent and remarkable status in our surroundings and current bio-network of tourism events are able to put forward according to respective potentials. The various impacts given by the unstable humanity and different insurgent groups in both hilly and valley areas keeps on giving influence to the choice of every tourist. So the state is taking up numerous steps towards the security and many more comforts towards the outside and inside tourist.

Conclusion

Since the state has various tourist spots with rich flora and fauna, tourism in Manipur could easily be developed. There are various policies that are being implemented since the state got its tourism into an industry status January, 1987 by the government of state, these policies and plans are still moving in a very low rate till today. State like Manipur has the full potential to grow up into a world class tourism spot. Different types of floras and faunas are being situated in an abundant amount; even more unexplored tourist areas are being abandoned and unused due to different factors. Manipur, being an international border, have so many advantages to boost the economic development. The town of Moreh in Manipur is the gate way to Myanmar. When the Look East Policy was made Manipur got huge influence. All these important policies are made worthless by various reasons.

A developed tourism is needed to bring the development in any place. The government, both state and national, should keep the views towards the development of tourism. In a state like Manipur, if the government is giving improvement and promoting the unexplored tourist spots then there will be a boost in the socio- economic development. So, the needs of maintenance to keep a tourist spot neat and clean should be the mandatory and foremost motive of a government. Above all these, the transportation and insurgence problem give a big impact on the development flow of tourism. The unexplored tourism spots lying in the far hilly areas are being abandoned due to bad road connection. The roads connecting to these areas should be made in a good way. Due to poor transportation connectivity and communication the state is in a lower status. If the state is developed in its tourist industry than it will bring the youths and women employed, giving huge GDP of the state and will lead to better quality. Insurgency is also a main issue in the state of Manipur, this let the outside tourist feel insecure and less safe when they start exploring. Manipur experiences a rugged topography which itself is a problem, natural disaster like land slide is a common issue mainly in the month of rainy season flow of tourist is less as compare to other seasons. Tourists who come to visit Manipur get discouraged by the lack in facilities like infrastructure, communication barrier and political instability. Thus, the government needs to the take different steps to fictionalize these polices being implemented to improve social and economic status of the state.

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Akoijam, L. S. & Meitei C. I. (2017). Branding of Tourist Destination: A Case Study of Manipur in India”, Manipur: A thesis submitted to Manipur university.

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Web Sites

www.manipurtourism.gov.in  Tourism Policy in Manipur 2014

www.northeasttourism.gov.in

www.tourism.gov.in

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