Situated in the far east of the country surrounded by lush blue hills, Manipur is blessed with a plethora of flora and fauna. This unique and unmatched blend of nature and its magnificent culture makes Manipur stands out from the crowd and gives an opportunity for tourism to the people. Manipur is a land full of mystery and is guarded by Seven Clans or Salai Taret since time immemorial.
Owing to its natural beauty, indeed Manipur can be transformed into a tourist hotspot that can entirely change the socio-economic status of the state.
Manipur has a population of around 3 Million in 2020 with a total land area of 22,327 km². 60 percent of the population lives in the valley and the remaining 40 % resided in the hilly area. At present, there are 33 recognized tribes in Manipur which either fall under the Nagas or the Kukis ethnic.
The official language of the state is Manipuri and the majority of the people living in the state are Meitei or Meetei. Aimol, Anal, Chiru, Chothe, Gangte, Inpui, Hmar, Kharam, Khoibu, Koirao, Kom, Lamkang, Liangmai, Mao, Maram, Maring, Mate, Monsang, Moyon, Paite, Poumai, Purum, Ralte, Rongmei , Simte, Suhte, Tangkhul, Tarao, Thadou, Thangal, Vaiphei, Zeme and Zou are the officially recognized tribes of Manipur. Manipuri is the language uses among these tribes to communicate with each other. Manipur is a very interesting place where one can find diversity in culture, eating habits, and language for every 10 Kms you travel.
Let’s us consider in brief why Manipur tourism isn’t on the Radar of tourist
Even though Manipur has a high potential for tourism, there hasn’t been any significant development in the tourism sector. For many decades of failure governmental policies, corruption, and misrule, its potential has been squandered so far. Manipur was recognized as a full-fledged state in the year 1972. Since then, the dilemma of insurgency begins and still continues to fester.
Thousands of lives have been claimed over the last decades. Manipur has been under the draconian law of AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Power Act) since Sep 1980 and is extending from time to time. This acts gives the members of security forces a special immunity from prosecution for alleged human rights violations. Under the umbrella of this law Manipur, Assam, Nagaland, and Arunachal Pradesh are declared as disturbed areas, and the hope of tourism has been under threat.
Some of the problems that stand as the barrier in the development of Manipur Tourism are as follows:-
- No proper roadways to connect the state to the rest of the country. Only a national high connects the state that joins Assam via Nagaland. This highway is often blockage by Nagaland for months that results in the skyrocketing of the price of commodities in the state. Another highway that connects the state with Assam has been kept dilapidated over the past decades.
- The law and order of the state are at their worst state. All should be free from any kinds of threats that directly affect their business and makes our people feel safe to run their venture in the night time. Recently, Manipur has been listed in the top corrupted state in India.
- No proper transport system between districts, towns, and villages.
- Lack of tourism infrastructure that prevents from visiting foreign tourist to the state.
- Improper setup of tourist places.
- Limited flight time to visit the state. Needs to extend the visiting hours to the state.
- Lack of local tourist guides.
- Lack of planning from our government’s side.
- Limited availability of hotels and places of stay for tourists.
If the ruling government of the state can re-consider all the issues that stand as a barrier to the development of Manipur tourism, we can easily turn our state into a tourism hotspot.
Points to be considered to develop Manipur Tourism
There are various ways to promote and grow Manipur Tourism and help develop the socio-economic of the state.
Require to develop roads that can be accessed by anyone
The first and foremost basic requirement for a place to develop is to have a proper motorable road. In order to start developing Manipur Tourism, the first thing required to implement is to make all the roads in the state motorable. Roads connecting states, districts, towns, and villages should be accessible in all weather conditions. Manipur is central to India’s future of Act East policy. New Delhi is planning to develop a profitable trade with the Southeast countries through this policy. Once, implemented Manipur can become an economic hub along with the development in the tourism sector.
Electricity for Every Household in Manipur
In order to start a revolution in Manipur Tourism, the availability of electricity in every nook and corner of the state is very necessary. Before we think of any tourist that will visit our state, we should first implement the necessary steps to reach electricity to all the households of Manipur. Furthermore, we can focus on renewable energy as the main source of electricity in those places where the electric lines cannot be reached. From time to time our government is also giving various projects or subsidies to our citizens to install solar power plants in their homes to solve the power issues.
Potable water should be made available.
Water is life and if our people can’t get fresh drinking water, it is impossible for us to develop in any field. Due to the failure planning of the government for many years, the majority of the people aren’t accessing fresh drinking water even though or state abounds with water sources.
4. Availability of the dedicated website
Availability of dedicated website about the various tourist places of the state. This will help tourists visiting the state know about the places in detail well in advance. However, a website dedicated to Manipur Tourism has already been opened by the government of Manipur. You can visit the website Maniputourism.gov.in here. This website needs to be updated frequently to let the tourist know about the development of the tourism industry in the state.
Setting up of Hill Stations can help grow Manipur Tourism
Setting up of at least one hill station in every district of the state. As most of the areas in the state comprise of hills, the setting up of hill stations will help in attracting domestic and foreign tourists. This is a one-time investment that will give a return in the long-term. On the other hand, it will also help to grow the local economy and create employment.
Increase the connectivity of flight
Manipur has flight connectivity to the metropolitan cities and other important cities of India. Recently, Tulihal airport, the only airport in the state was converted into an international airport, and its first international chartered flight from Myanmar landed in the month of November 2013. Acquisition of lands for extension of the airport was also completed. However, the development of the airport is at a snail pace.
There is minimal time for flights in the state and needs to be increased. For instance, if any visitor wants to visit Manipur from Chennai, he or she has to catch a very early morning flight or miss the flight. This will only create inconvenience for many visitors and can be a negative point for the development of Manipur Tourism. So, the number of flights should be extended and night flying should be implemented. This will not only help grow tourism but also the hotel industry of Manipur.
Promotion of Manipur tourism through advertisements
Advertisement is also an important tactic to attract tourists from various parts of the world. In this internet age, everyone has access to the internet and the advertisement of Manipur tourism will surely boost tourism in Manipur. Some of the platforms that can be used to promote Manipur tourism are google ads, youtube, social media, etc.
Social Media Presence
Social media can also be used as a tool to garner a huge number of audiences and followers. Nowadays, social media presence is very important as it allows for immediate interaction and visitor feedback. This will help spread the information on various updates and upcoming events. Engaging content that only points to the tourism of the state should be uploaded to the fan page in order to keep them engaged. Only relevant and actual information should be provided on the page.
Organising of crowd attracting annual festivals
In order to boost tourism, organizing the state’s annual festival has become a necessity. It can be related to any important events, culture, and traditions. As Manipur comprises various ethnicity, its rich heritage can be promoted in such an annual festival. As a necessary step the then CM of Manipur O. Ibobi Singh inaugurated the state’s biggest tourism festival Sangai Festival in the year 2010. This festival is celebrated from 21 to 30 November every year irrespective of young and old with glee. Since its inception, we’ve witnessed a lot of changes at this festival. Mao, Ukhrul, Moirang, Lamboi khongnangkhong, Uripok, Keibul Lamjao, Khuman Lampak, and Hapta Kangjeibung are the main location for organizing Sangai Festival.
Let’s sum up
The development of Manipur Tourism will not only boost the economy of the state but also helps promote the rich culture and heritage of the state. Manipur abounds with enchanting hills on all sides and gifted with a healthy climate, indeed Manipur is a little paradise on the planet. GDP of Many Small countries like the Maldives, British Virgin Islands, Macau, Aruba, etc. depend on the tourism industry. One practical example is the Maldives which is located in the Indian Ocean creates around 39 percent of GDP from the tourism industry alone.
In order to start attracting tourists into the state, all the essential steps should be taken up in a well planned and a phased manner. As it is a one-time investment, our government should focus on developing tourism in the state as our state lacks industry and employability. Once, tourism comes to life, the problem of unemployment in the state will be solved to a great extent.