“Things have taken a positive turn, especially after the G20 meeting in the state. We’re nearly booked out for the upcoming Hornbill festival. We now look at how to cater to the influx of tourists in terms of accommodating. Besides domestic, we’re even receiving inquiries from foreign tourists, including from Europe, America, Southeast Asia, and even places like Libya and Mongolia,” the minister told ETTravelWorld.
According to him, while the surge in interest has made positive waves for Nagaland’s tourism sector, the key hurdle remains the need for more affordable flight options to accommodate this growing demand. “In the near future, we hope that the aviation industry and the Central Ministry of tourism can provide more affordable flights to the state to accommodate this demand,” he stated.
Regarding hotel accommodations, the minister also mentioned a keen interest from various hotel brands eager to establish a presence in Nagaland. “A project by Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) is on the horizon while big brands like Taj Group have shown keen interest too,” the minister stated, adding that it’s best to await official announcements, without disclosing specific details at the moment.Asked what were the recorded tourist numbers after the pandemic, the minister pointed out that there’s no clear distinction between pre-pandemic and post-pandemic periods, as the pandemic affected festivities, bringing down the visitor numbers. “Nevertheless, Nagaland has experienced steady growth in tourist numbers over a few years. While foreign tourists continue to visit, there’s a noticeable increase in domestic tourists too, keen to immerse themselves in Nagaland’s rich cultural heritage,” he asserted.
“We don’t necessarily rely on specific marketing strategies for Nagaland tourism. Our state itself is an epitome of cultural and traditional heritage, with vibrant people who add a unique flavor. Our aim is to share this with the world,” said Along.
When asked about the substantial changes witnessed in Nagaland’s tourism landscape over the past 5-10 years, particularly regarding connectivity and infrastructure, minister Along acknowledged the considerable progress made during this time. He attributed this transformation to improved road connectivity, aviation access, and railway infrastructure, crediting the current government’s efforts to promote tourism in the North East. “The enhanced accessibility has allowed people from all over the world to explore Nagaland,” he highlighted.
As the Hornbill festival is scheduled to take place between December 1 and 10, 2023 at Kisama approaches, the minister highlighted the increasing diversity of visitors over the years. “While domestic travellers remain a core audience, Nagaland is getting interest from markets like Europe, Southeast Asia, and the Americas. With this surge, we also aim to expand the festival’s reach and global appeal,” shared Along.
With Nagaland’s 16 to 17 distinct tribes as its backdrop, the Hornbill festival has emerged as a global phenomenon, fostering the traditional music, dance, arts, and activities, drawing crowds from all corners of the world, while cementing its international status.
The Minister was interacting with ETTravelWorld on the sidelines of the 2nd edition of the Autumn Festival, held in Delhi last week. “This vibrant prelude to the Hornbill Festival is a testament to our shared heritage and the spirit of unity that defines Nagaland,” he said during his welcome address.
Also present on the occasion as the Chief Guest, Manisha Saxena IAS, Director General of the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, commended the North Eastern states for their significant contributions.
“The Northeastern states comprise eight per cent of India’s total area, four per cent of its population, and nearly four per cent of its GDP but in terms of experience, the region offers a 100 per cent experience of fun, sustainability, and beauty,” she said. She also acknowledged the Hornbill Festival’s well-deserved reputation as a brand and expressed her hope that through the Autumn Festival, the people of Delhi could catch a glimpse of Nagaland’s culinary, handloom, and handicraft offerings.
Saxena also announced the upcoming International Travel Mart organised by the Ministry of Tourism, to be held in Shillong, Meghalaya from November 21 to 23, adding that the government is committed to promoting the unique cultural wealth of the North East.