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Address by Minister of State for External Affairs, Dr. Rajkumar Ranjan Singh at Seminar on Tourism Opportunities in North-East India

July 30, 2022

Good evening / Sawadee Ka;

Mr. Tanes Petsuwan, Deputy Governor, Tourism Authority of Thailand

Ms. Somsong Sachaphimukh, Vice- Chairperson, Tourism Council of Thailand

Ms. Wachira Wichaiwatana, Vice-President, Thai Travel Agents Association

H.E. Ms. Suchitra Durai, Ambassador of India to ThailandDistinguished guests;

Ladies & Gentleman;

I am very pleased to visit Thailand and join all of you at this seminar on tourism opportunities in North Eastern states of India being organized as part of 2nd edition of North East India Festival in Thailand. I hope that the representatives of travel and tourism industries from both sides had fruitful exchanges during the B2B interactions held earlier today.

2. India-Thailand relations are more than thousand years old, rooted in strong civilisational and cultural bonds. There has been constant flow of ideas, culture, art, knowledge, language and religion between the two countries. Ramayana and Buddhism links and influences our two cultures.

3. We have excellent people-to-people contact. Every year, about 1.4 million Indian tourists visit Thailand, and similarly more than 100,000 Thai tourists visit India. Prior to COVID-19, about 1.9 million Indian tourists visited Thailand, and similarly more than 160,000 Thai tourists visited India in 2019. In fact, this year, the number of Indian tourists visiting Thailand is higher than any other country. More than 2.5 lakh Indians have visited Thailand till now.

4. Northeast India comprising eight States; Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and the Himalayan state of Sikkim have incredible diversity in terms of tourism opportunities. One can find the world’s largest river island – Majuli, as well as the smallest inhabited village island - Umananda in Assam. World’s wettest place - Mawsynram, the cleanest village in Asia – Mawlynnong and the cleanest river - Umngot are in Meghalaya. The region hosts several wild life sanctuaries, monasteries in Sikkim & Arunachal Pradesh as well as interesting caves carved in the limestone by falling water. North-East India attracts tourists from all over the world with its picture-perfect landscapes, traditions, festivals and cultural diversity, which enhances the charm of the region. Famous festivals of North East India include Hornbill Festival of Nagaland and Sangai of Manipur. Choirs and musical bands as well as classical and folk dances, the textiles, handicrafts and tea gardens are great attractions for tourists.

5. Under the Act East Policy of Government of India, there is special focus on enhancing connectivity of the north eastern region with the other parts of the country as well as the South east and East Asia region. Several connectivity projects are under implementation. The ongoing India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway connecting Moreh in Manipur to Maesot in Thailand will open up North-East India to entire South East Asian countries. With the completion of this project, there will be plenty of trade and tourism opportunities.

6. Thailand is one of the most favoured destination for Indian tourists. As far as Thai tourists to India are concerned, majority of them visit India for pilgrimage purpose to Buddhist sites. India is emerging as the favourite destination for adventure, spiritual and wellness tourism. We notice that now, North Eastern States are also attracting larger number of tourist from Thailand and other South East Asian countries particularly, the younger generation. They are interested in exploring new adventure sites and explore the natural beauty of the region including snow-capped mountains, forests and wildlife.

7. I am sure that the tourism authorities of the States as well as the tour operators have made detailed presentation on the huge tourism opportunities existing in North East India. I am happy to see the presence of large number of representatives of airlines, travel and tourism companies from both sides. Given that we are closed neighbours, there is considerable scope for increasing tourism from Thailand to India. We have the advantage of good connectivity through air, land and sea, along with similarity in culture, food and climatic conditions. The tourists from Thailand may also find it cost- effective to visit North Eastern States.

8. India and Thailand shared excellent air connectivity during the pre-pandemic period with around 300 flights per week. Direct air link between Guwahati and Bangkok was also established which has now stopped due to the pandemic. Now, we look forward to reestablish direct air connectivity between Thailand and North Eastern States of India. Presently, there are 2 international airports in the region – one at Guwahati and the other at Imphal.

9. With the opening of both India and Thailand, we hope that there will be enhanced movement of tourists from both sides and we are ready to welcome more and more Thai tourists to visit the North Eastern States and experience the Incredible India.

10. I take this opportunity to once again thank all of you for your participation and interest in promoting tourism in North East India and extend my special thanks to Mr. Shyamkanu Mahanta and Trend MMS for their huge contribution towards organisation of the Festival and this Seminar.

Thank you.
Kob Khun Khrap.

July 29, 2022

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