| Union tourism minister Subodh Kant Sahai with Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma in Shillong on Friday. Picture by UB Photos |
Shillong, Nov. 18: Union tourism minister Subodh Kant Sahai today reacted strongly against travel advisories issued to warn foreign tourists visiting the country, including the Northeast, by saying that no country was problem-free.
Addressing a news conference after the second inter-state regional conference of tourism ministers of eastern and northeastern states in Shillong, the minister said it was a matter of concern that several countries issued travel advisories, especially when their citizens were visiting India.
“We had taken up the issue during the recent London tourism meet and the matter was pursued at the foreign-secretary level with the respective countries and we feel that the advisories are funny,” Sahai said.
The minister said people travelled around many tourist destinations across the world and it should not be considered as something disastrous. “Every country has its own problems and issuing travel warnings is not desirous,” he added.
Earlier, addressing the meet, Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma said the travel advisories would only drive away the tourists visiting the Northeast.
He said the Centre, especially the ministries of home and external affairs, should address the issue by taking it up with the other countries.
According to the chief minister, perceptions about the Northeast needed to change and the travel advisories were not desirable as they would hamper tourist flow.
“During the recent tourism meet at Geneva, many travel and tour operators from the foreign countries had expressed their inability to come to the Northeast citing the travel advisories,” the chief minister said.
“The situation in the Northeast is contrary to the fear perception of many foreign countries,” he said.
“The Northeast gets a large number of domestic tourists, but the travel advisories stand in the way of attracting foreign tourists to the region,” Sangma said.
The chief minister suggested that the issue should be taken up by all the Northeast states with the Centre, which in turn should take up the matter with the concerned foreign ministries abroad.
Sahai said the absence of visa offices in important centres of neighbouring countries, especially Bangladesh, also came in the way of attracting foreign tourists.
Sangma, referring to his recent visit to Sylhet in Bangladesh, said many foreign tourists frequented Sylhet and if the Centre could set up a visa office at Sylhet, the tourists who visited the area could also arrange travel plans to the neighbouring Northeast region.