Tourism Beyond the Hornbill Festival
Just when the tourism industry in Nagaland was on the cusp of witnessing a significant transformation with the inflow of tourists increasing consistently, the COVID-19 pandemic slammed on the brakes, a common phenomenon across the globe. The state’s 10-day annual Hornbill Festival, the main attraction for tourists, both from various Indian states and abroad, too was cancelled in 2020 amid the coronavirus scare. The event, which has become one of the most popular in the Northeast region and in the country, has not been able to return to its full glory since. The 2021 edition was disrupted midway after the tragic Oting incident, while last year’s edition was marred by the decision of the Eastern Nagaland Peoples’ Organisation to abstain from participating in the festival over its demand for a separate state. Will the festival face a similar fate this time too? Well, the ongoing ethnic conflict in the neighbouring state of Manipur has no doubt cast a shadow not only over the affected state but also the whole country owing to the magnitude of violence and brutality. However, it’s an internal matter confined to the state, that too between only the two warring communities and it has not affected normal life of other states, though it has shaken the conscience of the public. The number of visitors from the violence-affected Manipur to the Hornbill Festival may decrease but that’s unlikely from other states and foreign countries. The fact is that keeping the festival dormant for too long won’t help anybody.
Nagaland should get down to the nitty-gritty of the sector as the world observes “Tourism Day” today to highlight the importance of the industry in generating employment and the economy of the people. A closer look at the industry in the state will tell us that it’s more a seasonal one with the Hornbill Festival being the main tourist attraction. Every village in the state is unique in its own ways and has potential to become tourist destinations but only a few like Khonoma have succeeded in attracting visitors throughout the year. It’s time to translate words into action and make every village a tourist hotspot. For tourism to flourish, certain aspects like security, connectivity, good communication system, etc. should be put in place. This requires co-ordination between the government and the public. We should work towards turning tourism into an economic-driving force and a job-creating venture. We should take tourism beyond the Hornbill Festival and make it a sustainable industry.