Tourism is not as innocent and benign as is largely perceived. Like any other developmental issue there are serious ramifications and implications for local economies, social and cultural fabric of the places promoted as tourism destinations, on the environment and biodiversity and on power relations.
The Government of Manipur in its endeavour to provide job opportunities and overall progress in the State, has been pushing tourism industry as the key source of economic growth. In the process, infrastructure development has been given prime attention. In order to facilitate the boost of tourism, the Manipur Tourism Policy 2014 which claims that Manipur with its inherent tourism potential, rich cultural heritage and vibrant pool of youth, with excellent grip over english language is an ideal place for promotion of Tourism as its main industry and sector to generate employment substantially. The Mission of the ‘Policy’ is “to promote sustainable tourism as a means of economic growth, social
integration and to promote the image of Manipur as a State with a glorious past, a vibrant present and a bright future”. Policies to achieve this will be evolved around six broad areas such as Welcome, Information, Facilitation, Safety, Cooperation and Infrastructure Development. Conservation of heritage, natural environment and development and promotion of tourism products would also be given importance. The policy gave over emphasis on building world class infrastructure with public private partnership (PPP) framework where government provides land and subsidies to private corporations/parties to lead tourism activity and this in turn helps trickles benefits to the general public. This policy was finalized without any public consultation and has not therefore been able to capture experiences of local people already affected by tourism and also the many perspectives that are being
conceived by entrepreneurs and small tourism enterprises. Indigenous Perspectives with EQUATIONS has conducted research on ‘Capturing Tourism Process in Manipur’ by way of monitoring and documentation of tourism trends; field visits of three destination sites (Thanga, Shirui, and Nongmaiching), and interviews of tourism stakeholders of Manipur.
The research was focused on understanding current tourism developmental trends in Manipur, and its brunt of consequences on communities living around project areas. The thrust of the research conducted over the period 2014 – 2015, were:
• Identification of ongoing tourism projects, key tourism destinations, and potential tourism destinations for conducting assessments, and establishing contacts with key stakeholders of destination sites
• Understand the current tourism scenario in the State of Manipur