“North-east is paradise unexplored” — the Ministry of Tourism showcased this brand entity of the region before buyer-delegates from 23 countries, including Asean, at the three-day International Tourism Mart which began at the Sarusajai Sports Complex here on Friday.

Describing it as “the biggest-ever tourism event to happen in any part of India,” Union Tourism Secretary Pervez Dewan said it was not only the first-ever international tourism mart to be organised in the north-eastern region but also the first to focus on a specific area.Apart from the Asean countries, delegates from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, Germany, Italy, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal are taking part in the event. Around 80 buyer-delegates are to be present.The international and domestic buyers will have meetings with sellers of tourism products from the north-east and West Bengal. Around 70 domestic buyers and 108 sellers from nine States, including host Assam, are participating in the mart. The overseas delegates will also be taken to some destinations by the respective States during post-mart technical visits.

On Friday night, the overseas delegates, who included 55 tour operators, nine hoteliers and 14 media representatives, as well as domestic delegates had their first-hand experience of the ethnic diversity of the region when traditional cuisine from the eight north-eastern States and West Bengal was laid on the table at the dinner hosted by the Assam government.

Principal Secretary, Tourism, H.S. Das said the Assam government has appealed to the residents of the city to wear their traditional dresses on Saturday to showcase the rich diversity of culture before the delegates. Mr. Dewan said each delegate would be presented nine gifts of handicraft items from each of the participating States.

Secretary, Tourism, Arunachal Pradesh, Sonam Chombay said the procedures of Inner Line Permit (ILP) are being simplified and being included online to facilitate easy travel of domestic tourists to the State. The Protected Area Permits (PAP)s for foreign tourists have also been simplified.

Commissioner, Tourism, Manipur, Rajesh Kumar said PAP is no longer required for foreign tourists to travel to the State. Northeast recorded the arrival of 58,920 foreign tourists in 2011 while the domestic tourists’ arrival in the region in the year was 63.74 lakh.

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