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Northeast Festival kicks off: Minister Meenakashi Lekhi says region safe and its infrastructure tourism-ready

Dec 23, 2023 08:50 AM IST

Since its inception in 2013, the festival has contributed to a significant rise in boosting tourism in the northeastern states, besides creating more awareness about the region.

New Delhi [India], December 23 (ANI): Union Minister of State for External Affairs and Culture Meenakshi Lekhi has urged the people to visit the country's northeastern region and experience its culture, heritage, and wildlife at least once in their lifetime.

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Lekhi said this while inaugurating the three-day North East Festival at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Friday evening, promising the visitors a memorable outing with varied artefacts, regional food, and cultural extravaganza.

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The 11th edition of the festival reflects the diversity of the northeastern states, the vibrancy and expertise of artisans, and the enterprise of entrepreneurs in what is otherwise seen as a relatively less-explored region of the country.

"Northeast is very much safe and the infrastructure is tourism-ready. I urge people to visit the northeast and experience the culture, heritage, and wildlife at least once in their lifetime," Lekhi said.

"North East Festival is one of the biggest and most beautiful festivals in Delhi. It aligns with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Act East policy, yielding substantial outcomes across entrepreneurship, tourism, culture, and trade. Under PM Modi's leadership, the North East region has seen tremendous progress in terms of connectivity, thereby bridging the gap. The festival plays a vital role in creating awareness, boosting the region's prospects, and nurturing connections," the Union minister added.

Lekhi also sipped on the exquisite flavours of the special Nagaland coffee.

The chief organiser of the festival, Shyamkanu Mahanta, asserted that they expect about one lakh visitors.

"North East Festival has become a Delhi tourism festival, offering a colourful glimpse into North East culture. This year, with Christmas vibes and a stunning display of agri, horti, handloom, handicraft, and food products, we are poised to surpass last year's 1 lakh visitors. The focus this year is also on wines from Meghalaya and Mizoram, tea from Assam, and coffee from Nagaland," Mahanta said.

The first day of the festival witnessed a B2B tourism meet, facilitating engagement among tour operators and stakeholders from the northeast region and other parts of India. Presentations by tourism representatives from Assam, Mizoram, Meghalaya, and Tripura added depth to the discussions.

PP Khanna, President of the Association of Domestic Tour Operators of India, emphasised the festival's role in opening up the North East to a diverse pan-India audience, noting the untapped potential in the region for various tourism segments.

Captain Swadesh Kumar, former President of the Adventure Tour Operators Association of India, advocated for highlighting offbeat places in the North East. He suggested a separate adventure policy with safety guidelines to further promote adventure tourism.

The dynamic lineup includes 300 folk artists from the region. Notable performers in this edition include a well-known Indian Nepali rock band from Sikkim, Girish and The Chronicles, Assam's heartthrob Zubeen Garg, Bollywood playback singer and composer Papon, and Bollywood actor-singer Shruti Haasan.

A poignant moment during the festival will be a music performance on Sunday, dedicated to the late playback singer KK. Widely adored, KK passed away in 2022. His band, accompanied by a selection of singers, will pay homage by performing some of his timeless songs on the North East Festival stage.

In terms of food, around 65 stalls are erected with diverse food items not only from Northeast India but across Delhi-NCR to encourage cross-cultural awareness and exchange.

Dozens of stalls are also put up and a marketplace is being created where visitors can explore and buy authentic and original products from the region. Additionally, tourism departments from some of the northeastern states have put up stalls to promote their region's popular and off-beat places, which have immense tourist potential.

Fashion enthusiasts can look forward to designers showcasing local fabrics and designs, emphasising the rich textile heritage of the region.

Since its inception in 2013, the festival has contributed to a significant rise in boosting tourism in the northeastern states, besides creating more awareness about the region.

The first seven editions were organised from 2013 to 2019 respectively, at IGNCA, Janpath. The two editions during COVID-19 were held in Guwahati, in a hybrid model. The North East Festival has also been held outside India -- Thailand in 2022 and Vietnam in 2023. (ANI)

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