In the context of a globally growing sector like tourism, Northeast India with both physical and human diversities is one of the most promising regions of the country in respect of tourism promotion. Among the Northeastern states, Assam took the pioneering step to recognize tourism as a sector of economy in as back as 1958. When the British declared Kaziranga a game reserve in 1916 and wildlife sanctuary in 1950, Assam was projected as an attractive destination for tourists, particularly those who are interested in nature and wildlife observation. In Kaziranga, provision for elephant safari was started for tourists in 1938 at the initiative of forest department (Dept. of Forest 1969).
Since then significant changes have taken place in the region’s tourism sector because of the efforts made by the central and the respective state government in this direction. However, tourism as an industry is of recent origin in Northeast India and despite a long history of hosting both international and domestic tourists, tourism sector of this region is still in infancy, witnessing merely 0.9% and 0.2% of the domestic and foreign tourist arrivals respectively of the country.
In Northeast India for decades, we are advocating for the development of tourism sector very casually without fixing our strategies, goals and priorities and in most cases without any authentic action plan. But, systematic exploitation of touristic potentiality of the region requires a band of trained manpower having better understanding of different facets of the industry. Moreover, there is necessity of critical judgment regarding the local tourism products prior to their marketing, so that tourism ventures can sustain in local socio-economic situation and contribute meaningfully in the areas concerned.