FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
IMPHAL, April 23: Decades ago the government had declared tourism as an industry. However it remained buried in the official files and number and frequency of tourists coming to this state were discouraging. On several occasions the manipulative officials had docketted officials visiting on duty as tourists and when these were exposed the sheepish officials had no word in defence.
Hotel Ashoka whose nomenclature was changed to Hotel Imphal later was just a dull, lifeless office the like of which one finds at Lamphel or some insignificant district corners. About three women in ordiry dress were kept at the front office. These employees nearing retirement mostly stayed under the sun outside or “visiting some some rooms” as if this was their duty. turally they spoke bastardized English or Hindi creating a language barrier to those who were coming from other states. The official magement was flawed to such an extent that next time visitors made it a point to stay in private hotels inside the city.
It is good for one and all that the magement was taken over by the group running a chain of hotels. Apart from the modern renovation there are smartly leveried boys and girls who speak good English, HIndi and know every rule of the business including how to speak with respect and humility to the tourists.
The intending tourists are contacting a private tour agency when they want to visit any of the NE states including Manipur. The agency has sleek cars and jeeps which would take the tourists without a hitch to Moreh or anywhere in the state. It has also engaged beautiful, smart girls with excellent communication skills. Till date there been no complaint from the tourists who turally recommend the agency to their friends. This is mainly because the selection of the tourist guides is based on purely merit and nothing else. It is not known whether there are such smooth arrangements in the Tourism department.
What places are there to be showcased to the visitors in Manipur? Because of official restrictions and rigmaroles a private tourist guide cannot take tourists deep inside the Keibul Lamjao tiol park except ride the canoes in the Loktak lake. There is nobody in the tiol park or even the mini zoo to give a brief and comprehensive commentary on Sangai and other flora, fau. The rich cultural heritages remain mostly unknown to the tourists since there is no liaison except the brochures between the government and the private agency.
Though some of the tourists would like to visit and spend a night at Moreh for a shopping binge it is not possible. Apart from the looming threats from the looters there is no hotel of repute where these tourists could stay. The clean and safe IBs are occupied by some haughty officials and are out of bounds for the tourists. There is no catering service at Sendra, Moreh or other places where the tourists would like to visit. The tourists and the local guides have to take packages and bottled water during the trips.
It is not known how long the government plans to continue the world class joke which has repulsed the tourists. eom