‘A long journey of recovery’

A view of Khonoma village in Nagaland, which receives more than 10000 tourists, including local, domestic and foreign, annually. (Morung File Photo)
A view of Khonoma village in Nagaland, which receives more than 10000 tourists, including local, domestic and foreign, annually. (Morung File Photo)

Impact of COVID-19 on Nagaland Tourism Sector - II

Vishü Rita Krocha
Kohima | August 12

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the Nagaland’s tourism industry resulting in tour operators and most of the tourism and hospitality sector to down shutters for almost the whole year.

While the pandemic has devastated the travel industry, Rohan Abraham of India Trail feels that the tourism authority in Nagaland has been quite proactive in trying to figure out some smart and safe ways to reopen. “I think the conclusion would be how we can get tourism restarted without endangering local people and also protecting the travellers who come in,” which he also points out, is a challenge to figure out.

“And it’s going to be a long journey of recovery, we have to basically go back and reinvent everything. We don’t have the staff, the road of recovering is going to be arduous,” he remarks.

India Trail is presently looking more at educating travellers on responsible tourism through articles and videos on online portals.

“Essentially, we are working on trying to create more travellers for next year”, he divulges. In the previous years, their annual calendar would normally involve taking clients around in the North East throughout the year. But with all of these travel activities on hold, he says, “the one saving grace was that in April last year, I started my CA firm, through which a little bit of business is trickling in and I am able to pay for 5 rents inclusive of the office and the campsite.

Neikedolie Hiekha, who is the Chairman of Eco-Tourism Management Committee (ETMC) Khonoma emphasizes on looking at tourism activities which are viable and sustainable. “In the past, we have had visitors of every kind including YouTubers, Bloggers, Bird Watchers, etc and we want to make sure that tourists also don’t exploit our village, culture or history but ensure that even with their visits, our resources and environment are safe,” he asserts.

Travel hereafter will be slow but it will pick up again, he expresses optimism while pointing out that people are fed up of the pandemic. “I am always positive, and I think it is also an opportunity for a destination like Nagaland where tourism is growing, and is a developing destination, especially viable for eco-tourism,” he says. ‘God has been kind. While there are no tourism activities at the moment, all my staffs are engaging themselves in either farming, mason work, or carpentry, a lot of people in the village are also re-cultivating,” he further adds.

When it comes to tourism department, Hiekha however expresses regret that it has not conducted examinations for the post of Tourist Assistant and Tourist Officers in the last 10 years while adding, “I am overage now. What good is the course we have studied?”

Meanwhile, Thejakelie Zuyie, an avid traveller, who makes at least 3 trips a year for leisure, expresses, “I cannot wait to travel. The last time I travelled was in November last year.” He would have been in Nepal in March this year if not for the pandemic. All his tickets were booked and further postponed for another month but “the situation got worse,” although that is still in his travel bucket list.

“As soon as it’s free to travel, I want to visit the youngest district of Nagaland- Noklak,” he states in anticipation. Zuyie recalls the year 2017 as his ‘most travelled year’ where he covered 8 countries besides touring Nagaland. With growing enthusiasm for travel over the years, many avid travellers like Zuyie are just biding their time to resume their trips, while the tourism industry also hopes to limp back to normalcy some time soon.
 

Read Here: COVID-19: ‘One of the worst crises to hit travel industry’- Impact of COVID-19 on Nagaland Tourism Sector - I