Agartala/New Delhi: The Union Tourism Ministry had sanctioned Rs 1,400 crore projects in the eight northeastern states under the Swadesh Darshan scheme in the past five years, said Pratima Bhowmik, a Tripura MP, on Tuesday quoting Union Tourism Minister Prahlad Singh Patel.
Replying to a question by Bhowmik in the Lok Sabha on Monday, the Tourism Minister said his Ministry had taken several steps to boost tourism in the northeastern states.
Patel said under the Swadesh Darshan scheme, which promotes development of theme-based tourist circuits, 16 projects were sanctioned during the past five years. Of the Rs 1,400 crore, Rs 896 crore was released, he added.
Of this, two projects each are for Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Sikkim and Tripura.
The projects included heritage development of Tezpur-Majuli-Sibsagar in Assam, wildlife tourism in Assam (development of Manas-Probitora-Nameri-Kaziranga-Dibru-Saikhowa), eco-tourism in Mizoram (development of Aizawl-Rawpuichhip-Khawhphawp-Lengpui-Durtlang-Chatlang-Sakawrhmuituaitlang-Muthee-Beratlawng-Tuirial air field-Hmuifang), tribal affairs (two projects) in Nagaland, (development of Mokokchung-Tuensang-Mon and Peren-Kohima-Wokha), and spiritual tourism in Manipur (development of Shri Govindajee Temple, Shri Bijoy Govindajee Temple-Shri Gopinath Temple-Shri Bungshibodon Temple-Shri Kaina Temple).
Patel said the Union Home Ministry (MHA) had declared Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim as partly protected area and partly restricted area.
"The MHA (Foreigners Division) on September 14, 2018 relaxed the restricted area permit (RAP) and the protected area permit (PAP) for Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland up to December 2022," he said.
Patel also said his Ministry had allowed relaxations to tour operators and travel agents of the region in the form of paid-up capital, educational qualifications, foreign exchange earnings turnover when they apply for recognition and renewal of their agencies.
The Tourism Ministry under the Marketing Development Assistance Scheme provides financial assistance to approved stakeholders and state tourism departments for undertaking tourism promotion activities in overseas markets, including sales-cum-study tours, participation in travel fairs and exhibitions and production of publicity material.
The Tourism Ministry also organises International Travel Mart (ITM) every year in one of the northeastern states to provide platform to them to showcase their potential to global and domestic players. The seventh edition of ITM was held in November 2018 in Tripura's capital Agartala.
Every year lakhs of foreign and domestic tourists visit the region, known for its greenery, wildlife, heritage sites, eco-friendly environment besides rich traditions and culture.
According to a separate official release, the Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) Ministry has undertaken a separate scheme to promote the concept of "homestay" in the region.
"The homestay scheme was successful in Sikkim and Meghalaya. Such exclusive and personalised approach not only increases tourist inflow, but also generates new avenues of livelihood for local youth and families," DoNER Minister Jitendra Singh said.