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Push for rural tourism

Guwahati: A panel of experts, policy makers, service providers and scholars will participate in a two-day national conference at Greenwood Resort here on Saturday and Sunday to formulate a vision document to promote rural tourism in the Northeast.

The North East Regional Centre (NERC) of National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (NIRDPR) is organising the conference on Livelihoods through Rural Tourism in North East India: The Way Forward. Professionals, academicians and heads of departments and institutes concerned from across the country will participate in the event.

The Union minister for rural development, panchayati raj and mines Narendra Singh Tomar will inaugurate the conference in the presence of the secretary in the ministry of rural development, Amarjeet Sinha, director general of tourism Satyajeet Rajan, director general of NIRDPR W.R. Reddy, former secretary of the tourism ministry M.P. Bezbaruah, secretary of the North East Council Ram Muivah and state government officials.

The NIRDPR, an autonomous organisation, under the Centre's ministry of rural development, is an institution for training, research and consultancy in rural development. The NERC was set up in Guwahati in 1983. The centre renders service to different central and state government departments, banking institutions, public sector undertakings, NGOs and international agencies dealing with rural development.

A statement issued by the organisers said the region, containing 7.02 per cent of the total villages of the country and 80 per cent rural population, has immense potential for rural tourism.

"The rich and varied flora and fauna, colourful village life, pristine natural beauty, unique culture, ethnic cuisine and homestay facilities hold high promise of transforming the sleepy villages into vibrant pockets of economic activity," it said.

"The region lacks infrastructure and a strategic outlook and the small share of tourism market belies its potential. A market-oriented approach is required along with a change in perception. It is high time to unleash the potential of the rich rural culture of the region," an organiser said.

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