Tea tourism for a taste of Assam

Friday, 28 January 2005, 08:00 Hrs
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GUWAHATI: With over 1,000 lush green tea gardens, Assam can be a hotspot for tea tourism in the near future.

Tea garden owners are taking the initiative to attract more tourists to their part of the country and are hoping that the government agrees with their plans.

Garden owner Debajit Chaliha said: "We are renovating guesthouses in tea gardens and working on developing the overall infrastructure.

"If the government can help us improve infrastructure, we can attract tourists from India and the West. Tea tourism could be the next big thing to hit northeast India," Chaliha told IANS.

Chiranjit Chaliha, another owner, said: "We are now improving the guesthouses in tea estates and tying up with private travel agencies to attract more tourists.

"Since visitors do not know much about these gardens, we can give them a crash course in the tea plantation process."

Another garden owner said: "The scenic beauty of tea plantations has always been an attraction for outsiders. What we need is financial help from the state government to improve infrastructure."

Golf courses and tourist bungalows too must be upgraded to woo Western tourists, garden owners said.

"Golf courses within tea gardens are our asset. We need to improve these readymade facilities," said B.L Chowdhury, a local who conducted a study into the potential of northeast tea gardens.

"Sporting facilities and well-furnished accommodation can make these gardens a viable hot spot for foreign visitors. The scope needs to be utilised in a professional way."

The government agrees.

Deepa Laskar, deputy director of Assam Tourism, said: "Tea tourism is a potential sector and this year we are promoting it through different festivals. The upcoming Kaziranga centenary festival will feature the promotion of tea tourism."

The Assam government is also mulling a move to declare old British-made buildings in the state as heritage buildings to capitalise on the nostalgia factor.

Source: IANS
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