By Rupesh Dutta
India’s northeast is considered the gateway to Southeast Asia and crucial for its Act East Policy, but Vietm’s envoy here says that poor road and air connectivity are a hindrance to developing tourism and other economic linkages with it.
“There is need for the Vietm tourism industry to earn revenue. But there is no point in the Southeast Asian tions to endorse tourism in India’s northeast, as the people and the region are similar to ours,” Vietm’s Ambassador to India Ton Sinh Thanh told IANS:
Thanh also said the poor road and air connectivity in the northeast - both within the region and to the outside world - “makes it difficult for outsiders to reach the interior areas, which is a major hurdle”.
According to Thanh, even in terms of trade Vietm “has not benefited much” from the northeast region in comparison to other parts of India and economically the northeastern region of India has “nothing much to offer”.
The ambassador said Vietm faces tough competition from the other Southeast Asian tions like Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines in terms of attracting tourists from India. Though the number of tourists from India to the Association of Southeast Asian tions (Asean) rose in the last three years, from 18,000 in 2011 to 55,000 in 2014, only a meagre 0.25 percentage chose to travel to Vietm, he said.
“We still receive only a minute percentage of the total Indian tourists going abroad. But tourists from India’s northeast are almost zero. Probably the reason behind that is the low income of the people in that region,” Thanh told IANS.
“Only when the northeast region develops and its purchasing power increases, Vietm can think of promoting its tourists to travel to that region,” said Thanh.
Vietm is planning to set up several visa facilitation centres across India to boost tourism to that country.
Asked if there was any plan to set up such centres in the northeast, Thanh replied in the negative. “We have plans to open a visa facilitation centre only in Kolkata, not any other part of eastern India,” he said.
“The northeastern region has great potential to emerge as a tourism hub of India, but currently there is need to boost the economic development of the states,” he added.
A delegation of 15 top Vietmese tourism agencies is in New Delhi to participate in the three-day Global Exhibition on Services underway at Pragati Maidan. (IANS)
(Rupesh Dutta can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)