JOY ROY CHOUDHURY – Guwahati
“International class river cruise over the Brahmaputra, eco and tea tourism and wildlife will be the major thrust areas of tourism promotion in Assam in the coming years,” said Dhruba Hazarika, secretary, Tourism Department, Government of Assam in an exclusive interaction with Express TravelWorld recently.
“We feel that introduction of this luxury cruise will help the north eastern states to bring in more foreign and domestic tourists to the region,” stated Hazarika. MV Mahabahu was launched last year in Guwahati. It sails on the Brahmaputra from Pandu Port located in the western ghat of the city at Uzanbazar Ghat located in the heart of the city. The project, envisioned a decade ago, was an attempt to create a unique tourism experience of international standards. The cruise has been developed under PPP mode between Assam Tourism Development Corporation and Far Horizon India at a cost of over INR 26 crore. The cruise ship, comprising of 29 cabins, including two luxurious suites offers a week long journey including Kaziranga National Park, Majuli Island, Nimatighat, green lash tea estates and historical monuments. On its route, tourists will be able to visit other spots offering a glimpse of traditional villages and local cultures.
“Besides, we are working with six major tea gardens of the state, where we jointly plan to promote tea tourism in a big way,” Hazarika added. The international and domestic tourists visiting these tea estates will have a feel of how tea leaves are plucked, processed and produced at the tea manufacturing facilities set alongside these gardens. Besides, these gardens will have international class accommodation facilities to accommodate the guests. “As these tea gardens are situated on huge plot of lush greenery, we are also planning to promote golf tourism in these gardens,” he added.
There are 850 big and medium sized tea gardens in Assam. The average holding of a tea garden is 13 sq km. Hazarika said that no other state offers so much in terms of diversities like Assam, be it rich natural resources, art and culture, fairs and festivals, handicrafts, pristine landscapes, forests and exotic cuisine, wildlife. The state houses 10 wildlife sanctuaries and four national parks. “Our focus would be to promote these national parks and wildlife sanctuaries and the wildlife present here,” he added.