On the sidelines of Manipur Sangai Festival’s curtain-raiser organised in New Delhi, recently, Waikhom Ibohal Singh, Director-Tourism, Manipur spoke about Manipur Sangai Festival successfully leveraging the influx of inbound and outbound tourists
By Kritika Dua
Manipur Sangai Festival celebrates the state’s indigenous culture, tradition and ethnic diversity. Manipur Tourism, in its last leg of promotions, is captivating the tourist attention with one of their most significant events and a huge crowd-puller. They are engaging with consumers and the travel trade fraternity alike through this festival. “We are promoting Manipur Sangai Festival as a people’s festival wherein they can enjoy without much restriction. Around 800 stalls are reportedly going to be constructed for the mega tourism event wherein 300 stalls will be constructed in Hapta Kangjeibung and Manipur Trade and Expo Centre Lamboikhongnangkhong will have 500 stalls. Japan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, USA and Thailand are participating besides which, we are eyeing European and South Asian countries,” exclaimed Singh.
He added that this stint will help to create awareness amongst potential visitors and stakeholders about the state’s offerings as a tourist destination. Manipur is a largely unexplored part of the North East and it offers various activities in-line with adventure, culture and rural tourism. In its eighth edition, the festival encapsulates the best of Manipur wherein different communities join hands to showcase their talent. A variety of dance forms of over 34 recognised tribes of Manipur will be a prime source of attraction of this mega tourism event.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will open this year’s festival as the chief guest. The cultural extravaganza will be held from November 21 to 30 in five different locations with palace compound of Hapta Kangjeibung being the main venue,
Lamboikhongnangkhong, Keibul Lamjao National Park, Khuman Lampak for sports events and Mao famous for the Cherry Blossom Festival. Princess of Thailand Maha Chakri Sirindhorn and Chief Ministers of Sagaing and Mandalay region of Myanmar Dr Myint Naing and the US Ambassador to India are on the attending list.
Some interesting and engaging activities are being introduced at this year’s festival. “Sumo Wrestling, Sangai library and a selfie stall titled ‘Hashtag’, with a Sangai at Loktak Lake as the backdrop, will be an added attraction. We would invite the distinguished guests to click pictures or share their experience, which will immediately go live on the social media pages of the festival. We urge the visitors to bring old books and donate them to our team which will be recorded under their name and photograph. We are planning to maintain a big library from it,” said Singh.
The domestic tourist influx to Manipur from 2010 to 2011 was recorded at 1,16,652 which increased to164,483 from 2017 to 2018, according to a report. Similarly, there has been an evident increase in foreign tourists from 431 in 2010 to 2011 to 3,787 in 2017 to 2018. Asked about the expected footfall this year, he replied “We are hoping to see a large number of sports enthusiasts as the festival will host Sumo Wrestling, half-marathons, water-sports, trekking as well as other adventure activities. We earned around INR 152 lakh last year revenue-wise and our target this time around is of one crore.”
He added that the Sangai Festival will be the last promotional event conducted by the state this year. Manipur tourism participates in various roadshows on a regular basis and keeps on promoting different attractions in Manipur, be it the popular markets, community areas and other interesting activities for the tourists.
“This is our biggest tourism festival that beautifully captures the essence of Manipur and celebrates its tradition, rich art and cultural heritage alongside plenty of adventure-related offerings. The visitors will get to experience the uniqueness of Manipur and its tourism potential. We will be selling tour packages, case in point if someone would like to explore Loktak Lake famous for the phumdis floating over it or Moreh, India’s gateway to South Asian countries. This festival will also let you see the remnants of Aryan culture,” asserted Singh. Tourists can revel in the Manipuri folk dances including the famed Raas Leela recognised by UNESCO and savour the authentic delicacies of different communities of Manipur, this festival has it all.