20-member Arunachal team takes part in 5th edition of Himalayan Orange Tourism Festival in Kolkata

ITANAGAR, Dec 11: In an attempt at bringing together all stakeholders from Nepal, North Bengal and Northeastern states and providing them a platform to interact and understand about the importance of promoting rural tourism and also giving an exposure to the local communities, a 20- member Arunachal delegation comprising tour operators, Homestay operators and officials of the State tourism department participated in the 5th edition of Himalayan Orange Tourism Festival (popularly known as the HOT Festival) in Kolkata from December 9 to 11.

Participants from various fields promoting rural and cultural tourism in Arunachal Pradesh had an opportunity to showcase the rural tourism products of the State.

The Himalayan Orange Tourism Festival, which is held every alternate year, is the largest Himalayan Rural Tourism Festival in Asia and aims to provide fresh oranges directly from the North Bengal and NE regions. The participation was impressive as 85 villages of Bengal Himalayan landscape, 12 from Sikkim, 81 from eastern Nepal, 20 from Arunachal Pradesh, and 6 from different parts of East and Northeast India took part in the orange festival, which was inaugurated by Sujit Bose, Minister State Fire and Emergency Services, Govt of West Bengal, in presence of many iconic figures who had been pioneer in promoting rural tourism. Representing Arunachal Tourism, Bengia M Sonam, (Dy Director) informed the gathering that since Arunachal is a tribal state housed with 26 major tribes and more than 120 sub tribes, visitors will experience rural life everyday and one can witness the local festivals every month of different tribes, apart from the annual tourism festival.

The best season being September to April the visitors are welcome to visit the Arunachal Pradesh to experience the local hospitality as off late many homestays have come up in the State providing the lifetime experience of tribal culture, she said.

With the coming up of Donyi-Polo Airport at Holongi, travelling to Arunachal Pradesh has been made easier with a direct domestic flight connecting Kolkata. 

Footfall of around 65000 with participants of 30 travel agents and rural entrepreneurs of 7 countries were recorded and as many as 35 stalls selling oranges from different regions such as Arunachal Pradesh, Nepal and Darjeeling were put up in the festival venue.

There were also stalls on local specialties of every region, ‘shitolpati’ (a mat mostly used in summer to cool a place), baskets made from barks of different trees, orchids from the forests, succulent plants of various types, and last but not the least, food stalls where momos, thukpas and other regional specialties were sold.

The Arunachal Pradesh stall selling oranges was sold out on the very first day of the festival. Kiwis, homemade pickles, smoked teas, handloom and handicraft products etc which were available in the Arunachal stall, also enthralled a large number of visitors.

On the last day of the festival, former India Captain Bhaichung Bhutia who is also an Ambassador for Association for Conservation & Tourism (ACT) and a pioneer of Sustainable Tourism Implantations, popularly known as Gurubas under the campaign #Boots2Roots, graced the event.

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