Assam has five national parks and 18 wildlife sanctuaries, the highest among all states, which are home to 25% of nation’s entire flora and fauna.
Guwahati: With its abundance and rich diversity of wildlife, Assam has the potential to become a leading hubs of wildlife tourism in India, travel expert and conservationist Julian Matthews at the recent Advantage Assam Global Investors Summit.
Mr Matthews, who founded the UK-based Travel Operators for Tigers (TOFTigers) in 2004, said that while Assam's natural assets are world class, the management of nature tourism is not quite top class.
"But, it has the skills, people and investors to change the scenario for the better. The need is to market Assam as a unique destination - a destination that can give one a wholesome experience not to be found anywhere else," he said, adding that the sector can also boost jobs.
Assam has five national parks and 18 wildlife sanctuaries, the highest concentration in India, which are host to 25 per cent of India's floristic wealth and enormous faunal diversity including one horn rhinos, pigmy hog, hillock gibbon and tiger. The mystery suicide by birds at Jatinga is also a subject of interest of all nature lovers and researchers.
"Nature and wildlife are priceless assets for Assam. Judiciously managed nature tourism can work wonders not just to its economy but boost its Nature and wildlife conservation immensely. It's equally benefiting to the local communities as it will help them emerge as important stakeholders in conservation," he said.
"Investing in Nature and wildlife tourism is the most critical investment to save the planet. Nature tourism today is a $850 billion per year industry globally, but sadly only $10 billion goes back to conservation," he said.
Mr Matthews also suggested to the state government to blend tourism promotion with showcasing of architectural heritage, including the British-day buildings and structures.
The state is home to various ethnic tribes groups. Each tribe has its own cultural heritage, socio cultural customs, religious beliefs, languages, attire, festivals, culinary tradition, songs and dances. Such diversity also attracts and offers opportunities for domestic and international tourists to engage with communities through home stays and participation in their festivals.
Union minister of state for tourism K.J. Alphonso also acknowledged the "incredible variety" of the Northeast and said that the region had no parallel with any place in the world in terms of its multiple tourist attractions like landscapes, forests and wildlife, adventure, and ethnicity, cultures and cuisines.
"The Northeast can be a top global tourism hub. We have a huge mandate before us and the Northeast has to be marketed appropriately. Our job is to create an amazing environment so that the world says 'wow'," he said.
Mr Alphonso also urged the prospective investors to invest in tourism in the region."I have been to 62 countries, attended many international events, but never before have I attended such a magnificent and well-organised summit. It shows Assam has it in it to go global on its chosen areas," he said.