A proposal for the creation of a regional hub in the north-east, which could include Guwahati, Bangkok, Kathmandu as well as a destination from West Bengal was presented by the Indian Chamber of Commerce in association with the governments of the seven north-eastern states to the Prime Minister's Office and the central ministry of the development of the north-eastern region.
Speaking at a function to announce the second north-east exposition, NEXPO, which the chamber organises in association with the resident commissioners of the seven north-eastern states and Sikkim, Nazeeb Arif, secretary-general of ICC, said the north-east was a much neglected and misunderstood region.
The chamber through proposals such as these plans to link up the region as in Nepal with various regional airways thus improving infrastructure and inland transportation systems.
The chamber through such activities is networking with the various state governments for individual state tourism policies.
"The next step after NEXPO would be to approach each state government in the north-east for the development of existing state forest and Public Works Department bungalows into resorts at prime locations to aid tourism," Arif stated.
He said 12 circuits had been identified for tourism promotion on the basis of exotic destinations and availability of ready infrastructure, informed Amlan Baruah, trade adviser and director of movements, government of Assam.
The chamber has worked on and developed one such six-nights package with economic viability involving Assam, Meghalaya, Kaziranga, Bhalukpong, Shillong and Cherrapunji with the option of an additional night at Guwahati, Nameri National Park, Kaziranga and visit to a tea garden to be promoted at the exposition, Baruah outlined.
The package cost would range from Rs 11,000 to Rs 12,000 for six nights and the chamber has left it to the travel agents to market it and charge their commissions, Arif remarked. Tea tourism would be next on the agenda.
The last NEXPO was organised in 2003 where the focus was handloom and handicrafts, whereas for 2006 it's tourism to be held at Swabhumi from January 6 to 11 and the chamber expects a footfall of over 10,000.
The tourist traffic to the north-east has grown between 25 to 30 per cent post such expositions and separate presentations at specific events.