MUMBAI: The North-East has become a favourite spot for travellers after improved infrastructure and air connectivity and is expected to grow by 10-12 per cent in 2019, industry experts have said.
"The bookings for North-east have gone up by 18 per cent as compared to the same period (April-June) last year. Tourism in the North-east region is expected to grow by at least 10-12 per cent even in the next year," said Cox & King's head, relationships, Karan Anand to PTI.
Karan Anand has cited improved air facilities as one of the prime reasons for an increase in tourists in the eight northeast states.
"Air connectivity has tremendously improved with new routes opening in the region last year. New flights have been introduced using Shillong as a hub to travel to other prominent tourist destinations of Meghalaya like Cherrapunji and Mawlynnong. The new airport at Pakyong (Sikkim) will further make reaching the northern part of the state, especially to tourist attractions such as Nathu La Pass, easier," Anand added.
Most adventure seekers hail from metros like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Guwahati and are aged between 25-50 years.
However, the second or third-time travellers, who are now discovering the attractions of the North-east, embark on their journey to understand the lifestyle and also the culture and the cuisine of the region.
Echoing a similar view, a MakeMyTrip spokesperson said that the high growth of travellers opting for the North-east sector can be attributed to not only to better road infrastructure and rail connectivity but also to direct flight connectivity from New Delhi and Mumbai.
"At MakeMyTrip, we have seen over 100 per cent growth in the number of travellers opting for North-east destinations such as Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya since the time we started offering holiday packages in the region," he added.
He said overall, the sector, including Darjeeling (a hill station which falls in West Bengal), is growing by 35 per cent for summer travel.
The MMT platform has witnessed 30 per cent growth in travel bookings to Gangtok, 120 per cent each to Shillong and Meghalaya.
Manmeet Ahluwalia, marketing head of Brand Expedia in India, said that for a very long time the North-East remained unexplored because of lack of proper connectivity. North-east India is witnessing a substantial growth thanks to a slew of government initiatives, better connectivity, infrastructure development and a variety of experiences on offer for voyagers, he added.
"We have seen a year-on-year growth of 25-30 per cent over the past five years. We are expecting the growth to continue with new government policies focusing on better infrastructure and connectivity," he added.
Ahluwalia said besides young adults, including college pass outs and first-time earners to families, there has been a rise in queries from all segments. Many solo women travellers also find the North-East a relatively safe space to explore.
Other than adventure trails one can go for challenging treks, kayaking, angling and rafting. Other activities include mountaineering, adventure sports such as river rafting, mountain biking, hang gliding and parasailing .
Music festivals like the Ziro Music Festival and Hornbill Music Festival have also attracted a lot of tourists.
"Attendance at these events from young millennials over the past 2-3 years has helped in making North-east a popular destination among tourists," he added.