Guwahati, Sept. 16 ( ETN News with  Phoro By Telegraph): Assam Tourism Development Corporation chairman Jayanta Malla Baruah today said the private sector can handle tourism industry far better than the government does.

He said a service sector such as tourism should be private-oriented. “Private guest houses are far better maintained than the ones run by the government. The sluggish mentality that shrouds government efforts must be shed,” he stressed.

Baruah was the chief guest at Northeast Tourism Conclave 2017 (Unveiling opportunities in Tourism – The way forward) organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

Laying stress on exploring all the resources in the Northeast, Baruah said promotion of tourism in the state or in the Northeast should not be restricted to Kamakhya temple and the Brahmaputra. “Tourists will only visit the Northeast if stories relating to extremists’ activities in the region are not told. Those stories are things of the past. People from the region have to be the torchbearers in attracting tourists by saying that tourism has replaced terrorism in the region,” he said.

He seemed firm on the decision to choose Priyanka Chopra as the brand ambassador of Assam. “States like Gujarat and Uttarakhand have spent over Rs 200 crore on tourism publicity against Rs 20 crore spent by Assam. Controversies must be avoided,” he said.

Baruah said the government was committed to the tourism sector of the state and asked all stakeholders such as hoteliers and tour operators to join hands in the venture. He said new options such as river cruise and home stays have to be made popular in the state. “The state government is ready to help entrepreneurs interested in home stays with 80 per cent subsidy,” he said.

The chairman said international events such as Fifa under-17 World Cup, slated to be held later this year, would generate enough interest and lead to revenue generation.

Vijay Dewan, chairman of tourism sub-committee, CII eastern region, and managing director of Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotel Limited, said, “The tourism industry is the largest sector that has a lot of contributions in the country’s GDP. It acts as one of the biggest job creators, providing employment to 25.37 million people, which is expected to increase to 39 million by 2027.”

Regional director of NE India Tourism Shoeb Samad said the state government should utilise all the central schemes and make good use of the funds to promote tourism and encourage private-public partnership mode for sustainable development.

The conclave comprised technical sessions on various aspects of tourism. Experts, senior government officials from Assam and Sikkim and private stakeholders attended the conclave.