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Tourism Festivals & Tourists in Manipur

Manipur, with its salubrious climate, topographical mystique, cultural heritage and sublime natural beauty has an enormous tourism potential. In fact, the state of Manipur has immense tourism and commercial potential and destined to be a commercial hub and tourist hots spots in South-East Asia. Thus, developing Manipur’s tremendous tourism potential could help generate a range of employment opportunities for the local people which may reduce the burden of unemployment problem to a great extend in Manipur.
Manipur is known for its sporting talents, especially in the field of Boxing, Football, Archery, mixed Martial arts along with our traditional games like Mukna, MuknaKangjei, Kang Sanaba, Thang Ta, SaritSara, YubiLakpi apart from Polo which was originated from Manipur. Similarly the cultural talents in the field of music (Pena, Khunung Eshei, KhonjomParva etc.), dances (Ras Lila, LeimaJagoi, ThougalJagoi, Khamba ThoibiJagoi and many other tribal dances), drama, Sumang Lila, cinema and many other art forms are unique in the state of Manipur. Not only these it won’t be exaggerated to say that Manipur has a unique festival in every month, like Holi (Yaosang) in the month of March, Lai Haraoba, generally in the month of April/May, RathaYatra in the month of June/July, Krishnajarma/RadhaJarma in the month of August/September, DrugaPuja, Diwali &Ningol Chaokouaba in the month of October /November, Christmas, Kut and Gan Ngai in the month of December /January. All these are very important components for the attraction of tourists. In this line, with a good hope and high expectation, Manipur Government is putting maximum efforts at its wits-end and has been organizing Manipur SANGAI TOURISM FESTIVAL since 2010 to draw the tourists. Over and above to this, government of Manipur sponsored in organizing SHIRUI FESTIVAL at Ukhrul and BARAK FESTIVAL at Senapati.
At the same time, under the aegis of State Horticulture Department, many horticulture product based festivals like Orange Festival, Lemon Festival, Pineapple Festival, Chile Festival, Ginger Festival etc. have been organizing at different places of Manipur. These Festivals not only aimed to promote and encourage the farmers to increase yield of the agro and horticulture based products but also aimed to attract domestic as well as foreign tourists and  foreign buyers and investors. But a big question mark is that; whether these Festivals achieved its objectives and motto set for or not? It will be right to say that despite State Tourism Department and other line Department of the Government of Manipur organized a number of tourism cum product based festivals, it fails to achieve its goal and objective. One reason could be; these festival are something like VIP show case rather public oriented one as opined by many.    
According to the latest report from the State Tourism Department, in 2018-2019, altogether 1, 75,826 (1, 66,032 domestic and 9,794 Foreign) tourists came to Manipur, which is the highest number of tourists landed in Manipur in the last 10 years. In 2017-2018, altogether 1,68,270(4,483 domestic & 3,787 Foreign) tourists came in Manipur as reported by Tourism Department. For the current year 2019-2020, from January to May, altogether 25,028 (23,015 domestic & 2009 Foreign) tourists have been in Manipur. From 2012-13 to 2017-18, only 25,975 tourists had been in Manipur. Again, seeing the data or record of the Tourism Department about the arrival of tourists in the State, the hope of State Government in the Tourism sector is still a deplorable one. To attract the attention of national and international tourists, it is imperative to ensure safe and secure environment along with necessary investment in building a modern hospitality infrastructure. But all these requirement for the tourists are not seen as of now in Manipur. Political instability, horrible law & order problem, insurgency problem, insecurity due to AFSPA, frequent bandh and blockade could also be the factors to repel the tourists from Manipur. Another inconvenience to the foreign tourists is that though the Protected Area permit/Restricted area permit has been removed, foreign tourists need to register to the District authority of the District where he/she is, for every 24 hours. At the same time, the role of private sector is also very important to attract the tourists. At present, the role of the private sector in the state is minimal. Most of the private participants choose to stay out of Manipur due to lack of infrastructure support and security concern. Unless the Department or authority concern is honest enough to deliver all the necessities to outreach to the stakeholders concern, the effort will be a futile attempt.  

Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh

Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh is a regular contributor of Imphal Times. Presently, he is teaching Mathematics at NIELIT. Jugeshwor can be reached at: [email protected] Or WhatsApp’s No: 9612891339.

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