1st NE Tourism Festival draws sparse visitors at Huishu riverside
R LESTER MAKANG
UKHRUL/HUISHU, 16th Nov: Contrary to initial buzz and expectations, the first North East Tourism Festival kicked off with sparse visitors and participants here on November 15 evening at Huishu river bank located about 55 km north of Ukhrul town.
The festival is being organised by Ukhrul-based Mik Pingla Industry & Ukhrul Hills Development Foundation (MPI & UHDF) in collaboration with North Eastern Council (NEC) under the theme 'Exploration of Exotic Huishu Region', from November 15 till 17.
Scheduled to be inaugurated by commerce & industry minister Th Biswajit Singh at 11 am Thursday, the inaugural function got delayed by almost 6 hours, since the chief guest and all the dignitaries failed to turn up even as local villagers and a few dozens of visitors and media persons were kept waiting for the event to commence.
Later in the evening around 5 pm, Ukhrul ADC member Dr Yaronso Ngalung somehow came to the rescue of the much hyped maiden festival and inaugurated the festival as attendees braced themselves for the chilly night at the scenic riverside.
Speaking at the inaugural function, Dr Yaronso Ngalung highlighted that Huishu River with its beautiful sandy bank and scenic hill locked surroundings has a good potential for developing as a tourist destination.
He said that notwithstanding the abundance of naturally-endowed resources, villages in the hill districts in general face various problems in developing their beautiful places owing to their lack of development.
Stating that here is a visible disparity between the hills and the valley in terms of development in the state, he observed that while the valley has witnessed some tangible developments, the hill areas are lagging behind in various aspects and are in need of adequate funds from the government for their development.
In light of this, Dr Ngalung who is also former UADC chairman, stated that the festival is not only meant to showcase the natural beauty of Huishu village, but also to highlight to the outside world the problems endured by the locals due to paucity of development. "This festival will be an opportunity to let the people from outside come and witness the state of backwardness here," he said, adding that Huishu and all other villages in the district need proper roadways and other infrastructure.
Dr Ngalung then appealed to the government to make Huishu riverbank a tourist hotspot destination through the festival which will benefit the local village as well as other neighbouring villages of the area, and assured that Autonomous District Council would convey positive message to the government in this regard.
Observing that the festival has a low public turn up, he attributed it to the same being a relatively new event and expressed hope of greater number of participants in the next edition.
In his keynote address, Achui Graceson Shatsang, managing director of MPI & UHDF said that the festival is being organised with the objective of promoting tourism development in Huishu region and also in the district as a whole.
"Only when we start showcasing our beautiful places to the outside world, then will people start flocking to our place to see them so that they could become a tourist hotspot," he exuded confidence.
He further stated that in order to bring about development, tourism need to be promoted in the first place and added that: "Only then development will follow automatically."
In his speech as guest of honour, NPF Chingai unit general secretary Yangmi Ronra Shimray expressed hope that organising of the festival will be a boon for all the villages under Chingai subdivision.
Around the river bank, local villagers could be seen setting up their commercial makeshift stalls including, eateries where traditional Tangkhul cuisines were served to the visitors at the rate starting from Rs 170 per meal.
Ukhrul based adventure group CHIKO also provided tent facility for campsite sleeping facilities for visitors and tourists alike.