Northeast’s improved infrastructure and air connectivity are luring a massive number of tourists. Tourist footfalls are expected to grow by 10-12 per cent in 2019, industry experts said.
“The bookings for NE have gone up by 18 per cent as compared to the same period (April-June) last year. Tourism in region is expected to grow,” Cox & Kings Head, Relationships, Karan Anand, said.
“Air connectivity has tremendously improved with new routes opening in the region last year. New flights have been introduced using Shillong as a hub to travel to other prominent tourist destinations of Meghalaya like Cherrapunji and Mawlynnong.
“The new airport at Pakyong (Sikkim) will further make reaching the northern part of the State, especially to tourist attractions such as Nathu La Pass, easier,” Anand added.
According to Anand, NE is preferred by holiday-makers aged between 25-50 years and hailing from metros such as Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, besides Guwahati and nearby areas who flock there to explore its wildlife, rivers and culture, he said.
However, the second or third-time travellers, who are now discovering the region’s attraction, want to understand the lifestyle, culture and cuisine of the region, he added.
A MakeMyTrip spokesperson said high number of travellers opting to travel to the Northeast can be attributed to not only to better road infrastructure and rail connectivity but also to direct flight connectivity from New Delhi and Mumbai.
“Apart from this, more number of hotels are opening up in this region, making it easier for travellers to find accommodations in places which were earlier not very connected.
“At MakeMyTrip, we have seen over 100 per cent growth in the number of travellers opting to visit destinations like Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya since the time we started offering holiday packages in the region,” he added.
The MMT platform has witnessed 30 per cent growth in travel bookings to Gangtok, 120 per cent each to Shillong and Meghalaya. Assam, Meghalaya is increasingly becoming popular among the top metro markets, the MMT spokesman said.
Manmeet Ahluwalia, marketing head of Expedia in India, said for a very long period, the NE had been unexplored due to poor connectivity and infrastructure.
However, tourism in the region is now witnessing a substantial growth thanks to a slew of government initiatives, better connectivity, infrastructure development and a variety of experiences on offer for voyagers, he added.
Ahluwalia said besides young adults, including college pass outs and first-time earners to families, there has been a rise in queries from all segments.
“People who like exploring nature and its serenity are attracted by most of the destinations in northeast. We have also seen an increase in women solo travellers who feel comparatively safer in the environment. Adventure seekers enjoy the place for its challenging treks, kayaking, angling and rafting,” he added.
There has been an increase in queries and bookings from all over the country, but residents from Delhi, Kolkata, Bhubaneshwar, Ahmedabad and Jaipur top the list of people wanting to travel here, he said, reports the Assam Tribune.
The region offers a holistic package. However, activities like trekking, mountaineering, adventure sports such as river rafting, mountain biking, hang gliding and para sailing are gaining popularity in the region, he said.
“Activities like the Ziro Music Festival and Hornbill Festival, too, have started to see a lot of traction.
“Attendance at these events from young millennials over the past 2-3 years has helped in making NE a popular destination among tourists,” he added