Manipur to have new tourism policy soon: Haokip

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New Delhi, Apr 1 (UNI) In order to exploit the immense tourism potential of Manipur and bring it on the international map of tourism, the state government would soon announce a new tourism policy, said tourism minister T N Haokip.

Talking to UNI here yesterday, he said the policy was being prepared and would soon be placed before the state cabinet for implementation.

Appreciating the beauties of Manipur, the minister said it had a green valley surrounded by the blue hills and the climate was also moderate. The first Prime Minister of the country, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had described the state as ''Switzerland of the east''.

''The beauty of Switzerland lied in its infrastructure, whereas, Manipur's beauty was natural. It was the gift of God,'' the minister added.

Mr Haokip hoped that with the completion of various infrastructure developments in Manipur the tourism would boost the state's economy and help generate employment.

The Trans-Asian Highway reaching Thailand via Myanmar would be passing through Manipur, he said adding that the Civil Aviation Ministry would modernise the Imphal airport with night landing facilities. More than 10 flights from different parts of the country reach Imphal daily. The minister described Imphal as the gateway of South East Asian countries.

The state had already flourished its cultural, sports and adventure tourism, he said.

''We will develop health tourism at Regional Institute of Medical Sciences, Imphal, in near future", Mr Haokip added.

The financial crunch has slowed down development of tourism and the imposition of Protected Area Permit system also restricted the entry of foreign tourists in the region, he pointed out saying that in Nicober Islands, the system was imposed for protection of the indigenous people.

''I have travelled throughout the world and did not find such restriction anywhere,'' he said.

He said the government has identified 520 acres of land for setting up an international airport in Manipur but acquisition of it has been a problem as people were not ready to hand over their land, Mr Haokip said.

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