Rama Krishna Sangem
The two-day Symposium on Community Based Tourism (CBT) in North-East India concluded on a high note, with enthusiastic participation from experts, tourism industry leaders, students, and stakeholders from across the region on August 11.
The event, aimed at exploring the potential of community-driven tourism and its role in sustainable development, brought together diverse perspectives and insights. The symposium, which took place at IIM Shillong Umsawli campus, featured an array of informative sessions and discussions, providing a platform for meaningful dialogues and collaborations.
Students from esteemed institutions such as Martin Luther University, ICFAI, Royal Global University Guwahati, Shillong Law College, Down Town University Guwahati and Bajoria Group of Institutions joined the event, according to a press note, on August 12, Saturday.
The inaugural session of the symposium was dedicated to delving into the theme of Community-Based Tourism in North-East India. This was followed by an insightful address by Shri Cyril V. D. Diengdoh, IAS, Director of Tourism Meghalaya, who shared valuable insights on the overnment's role in nurturing tourism ecosystems.
He also highlighted Meghalaya's progressive Tourism Policy. The second day of the symposium was marked by three enriching technical sessions: 1. Exploring Opportunities under CBT: This session was graced by Shri. Ajit Kr. Paul, Founding President of Tripura Tourism Development Forum, along with prominent figures including Shri. R K Sharma, Founder of Seven Sister Holidays, Dr. Sharad Kulshreshtha from NEHU, and Prof. Achinta Kr. Sarmah from IIM Shillong.
The discussions centered around empowering local communities to enhance tourism experiences by offering authentic local and ethnic interactions, aligning with the 'vocal for local' initiative. Mr. Sharma emphasized the four pillars of CBT: Conservation, Culture, Commerce, Community, and the vital addition of 'conversation' within the fragile ecosystem of the region.
Community Concerns and Participation
This session, led by Shri. Carmo Noronha, Secretary of Bethany Society, Shillong, Shri. Kenstonbel Manik Syiemlieh, descendant of U Tirot Singh, and Prof. Rohit Dwivedi from IIM Shillong, highlighted the significance of inclusivity, leadership within communities, and the revival of indigenous practices. The discourse focused on how community-driven tourism can contribute to inclusiveness, resilience, and sustainability.
CBT Business Models in NER: The third session featured a dynamic panel discussion with industry leaders including Shri. Bengia Mrinal from the Indian Association of Tour Operators, Arunachal Pradesh, Smt. Elina Satpathy, Co- founder of Seven Sister Holidays, Smt. Dasumarlin Majaw, Founder of Smokey Falls Resort, Meghalaya, Shri. Tshring Wange, Founder and CEO of Himalayan Holidays, Arunachal Pradesh, Smt. Nino Zhasa, Owner of Morung Lodge, Kohima, Nagaland, and Prof. Sheetal from IIM Shillong.
The symposium culminated with a captivating closing ceremony, graced by the presence of Paul Lyngdoh, Minister of Tourism for the Government of Meghalaya as Chief Guest. Also in attendance was Smt. R. Lalrodingi, Advisor Tourism and Industry, NEC, as the Guest of Honor, Atul Kulkarni Member BoG IIM Shillong and Dr. S Ningombam Coordinator of Kalam Centre IIM Shillong. Minister Lyngdoh shared his insights on Shillong and its beauty and the potential of the Tourism Policy.
The symposium stands as a significant milestone in fostering collaborative efforts towards sustainable and community-driven tourism in North-East India. The discussions and deliberations have set the stage for a more responsible and inclusive approach to tourism, aligning with the region's cultural heritage and natural beauty.