Northeast India’s hospitality pioneers map blueprint for better tomorrow
In this episode of BW Hotelier, The GM Show Season 2, industry leaders underscored the immense potential of Northeast India as a sustainable tourism destination
In the latest episode of BW HOTELIER’s webBLAST series, The GM Show Season 2, the focus was on the challenges, opportunities and way forward for sustainable tourism across Northeast India. The discussion, moderated by Jayanta Das, Area Director and GM of Vivanta Guwahati, with industry experts, provided a comprehensive insight into the region’s potential and the strategies the hospitality industry is adopting to overcome hurdles and pave the way for sustainable tourism.
Das set the stage by emphasising the natural treasures of the Northeast, calling it the Land of the “Eight Sisters,” blessed with scenic beauty, rich biodiversity, wildlife sanctuaries and a unique blend of ethnic and cultural tourism. He highlighted the region’s diversity, stating, "The high degree of diversity in the northeast can be seen by its 220 ethnic communities with 220 different dialects.” He shared the 2022 tourist statistics, which show that there has been a notable influx to the Northeast, with more than 180 lakh inbound tourists and 1 lakh foreign visitors. “Northeast aims to become one of the most sought-after destinations for tourism in India, giving Goa and Kerala a run for their money,” he said with confidence.
Nitin Pathak, GM, Novotel Guwahati, joined the conversation, shedding light on the evolving opportunities in the past four years. He emphasised the strategic location of the northeast as a bridge between South Asia and Southeast Asia, presenting a potential centre for trade. Pathak urged the hospitality industry to seize these opportunities, saying, "The opportunities lie in the hands of us (the hospitality industry), wherein we can create our niche branding, showcasing our uniqueness in a better way."
Highlighting the prospect of medical tourism, Pathak shared, "Apart from MICE tourism, one of the prospects that can benefit Guwahati is the upcoming establishment of AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences). This can aid in the surge of medical tourism."
Praveen Sharda, GM of Vivanta Shillong, took the discussion towards environmental sustainability. He discussed the initiatives taken by Vivanta Shillong, stating, "Since the inception of hotel Vivanta, we have created our green team and green rooms following environmental and sustainability concerns." Sharda revealed ongoing talks with the government to install windmill power plants to tackle energy efficiency.
Shashank Roy, GM of Ramada by Wyndham Gangtok Deorali Hotel & Casino, addressed a critical issue: the seasonal water shortage. He proposed a game-changing solution, stating, "There is a seasonal water shortage in the area, so implementing the rainwater harvesting method can be a game-changer." Roy also highlighted the Wyndham Breed initiative, which contributes to reducing the carbon footprint of the hotel chain.
Commenting on the need for better marketing, Sanjeev Kumar, HM of Courtyard by Marriott Siliguri, said, “The immense potential of the Northeast needs to be marketed better.” He stressed the lack of information available to tourists and proposed the establishment of an information portal to facilitate the flow of information about where to stay and where to eat, boosting rural tourism.
Sabyasachi Mohanty, RM, Mayfair Darjeeling, brought the focus back to culture as the primary appeal of tourism. He discussed the Hornbill Festival of Nagaland as an annual draw for tourists and called for effective showcasing of the region’s potential to attract deserving numbers of travelers. Mohanty acknowledged the challenge of retaining traditions as tourism grows but asserted, “Increasing the number of visitors while retaining cultural value is the key to long-term benefit.”
Highlighting the visible infrastructure improvement in the region and tracing the importance of connectivity for thriving tourism, Sandeep Makroo, GM of Vivanta Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, said, “The availability of resources is at its finest, medical infrastructure is at its best, and travel time has reduced exponentially throughout the Northeastern states.”
The insights shared by the hospitality industry leaders in this episode underscore the immense potential of Northeast India as a sustainable tourism destination. The episode ended with host Bhuavnesh Khanna thanking the esteemed panellists for sharing their thoughts and views on the subject and informing them about the next GM Show at 4 pm, on November 16.
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