11 July 2016
The state is set to take a big leap into the money-spinning world of tourism. It has come up with a draft tourism policy which includes 'Awesome Assam', a campaign to boost tourism in all sectors wildlife, spirituality, tea, golf, adventure, leisure, monsoon, film, and so on.
Assam will first have to overhaul its image of a militancy-hit zone by re-branding itself and putting the latest technological interventions to use, the draft Assam Tourism Policy, 2016, says. The policy proposes the creation of a framework to transform tourism into a major economic sector of the state and increase tourist inflow two to three folds in the next five years. In 2014, around 4,50,000 domestic and 20,000 foreign tourists visited the state.
"Assam has special things to offer, but it needs to get a framework in place to realize the benefits," the draft policy states.
With an eye on the vast market in southeast Asia, the draft proposes full utilization of the opportunities for tourism expansion opened up by the Trans-Asian Highway, via Myanmar and Thailand, to Singapore, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. This, the draft policy says, will 'open the floodgates for tourists from these countries'. The proposed policy says 'a direct flight on the Tokyo-Seoul-Beijing-Guwahati route will bring loads of tourists from Japan, South Korea and China'.
To promote film tourism, the draft proposes financial grants for Bollywood directors to the tune of Rs 1 crore per film if more than 50% of it is shot in the state. If the film is based on Assam's culture, with tourism and heritage as its central themes, an additional Rs 25 lakh will be given. Another Rs 10 lakh will be granted if the post-production work is also done in the state
There will also be a single-window clearance system for filmmakers, serial producers and documentary-makers through the tourism website to facilitate quick clearance of required permits and approvals.
The draft paper suggests that the state's bandh culture affects tourism adversely. Discussions should be carried out with all political parties and unions to exempt tourism from such bandhs and ensure free movement of tourists, it adds.