Tourism has always been a booming industry for both developing and developed countries. It showcases the vast culture and traditions of a county, its unique identity and legacies.Almost every nation in the world has its flagship tourist hotspots. In India tourism is a key sector generating revenue and employment.
Needless to say the pandemic has dealt an unprecedented blow to tourism and the sector is now bleeding at its own expense with no immediate recovery in sight.
However, there is a silver lining for the Indian tourism industry even in this situation. As we are all well aware, the severity of the virus (in terms of positive cases) has visibly been less in the smaller states of India. While the metros and cosmopolitan cities are the worst hit, smaller cities and towns too have relatively fared better in containing the virus.
This fact automatically translates to an opportunity for the smaller states to attract more domestic and even international tourists. After all as the pandemic gradually subsides, people will want to travel again and perhaps more. For instance some of the northeastern states, particularly Meghalya, Nagaland and Mizoram have been relatively less ravaged (in terms of number of positive cases) by COVID-19.
A clear and strong branding strategy is the need of the hour for every state of north east IndiaFor instance although Nagaland is a small state of India, the tourist footfalls have seen a steady surge for several decades. Commanding a geographical expanse of only 16,569 sq km, Nagaland has attracted people from other states and even countries by dint of its rich folk traditions, unique customs and verdant and lush hills. Be it the Ntanki National Park, Kohima War Cemetry or Kachari Ruins: the tourist hotspots of the state have attracted ordinary travelers and people with specific interests like wild life enthusiasts, historians and researchers.
Speaking to Fit Northeast Kiwi Haralu, a young Naga lady living and working in Guwahati says, "The tourism department of Nagaland needs to immediately position the state as one of the 'now safe' travel destinations. An effective online marketing and branding strategy is really the need of the hour. It should also incorporate interesting trivia and literature on the unique essence of the state. Though this might seem very elementary this will go a long way towards mobilizing tourist movement into the state even in the immediate winter months when people from across the country are itching to travel again but apprehensive of most of the usual destinations."
Leslie Mawlang from Meghalaya has similar thoughts. "The northeastern states particularly the tribal dominated states do not have a differentiated image among most people from the rest of India. While people know about tribal food and customs they do not know about the things that are unique to each of these states. Hence I feel a clear and strong branding strategy is the need of the hour for every state of north east India."
Reiterating the tourist opportunity of Nagaland in the immediate winter months Kiwi says, "One must also not forget that it is actually the hill stations of India that have relatively been much less impacted by COVID. Now all these hill stations particularly the ones of North India are going to be under snow. Nagaland with its milder winter temperatures definitely has an advantage in this context too."
We at Fit Northeast agree. It is also an undeniable fact that for the tourism industry to grow, it will have to start from the roots, from how and where it all began. The efforts and sacrifices may have to triple in order to bring everything to how it was before COVID 19 hit the entire world. But it is definitely worth a try and hopefully with the right mindset of the government and travel entrepreneurs, new milestones shall be etched and gradually reached.