Since the first discovery of tea plantation in Assam almost two centuries ago, we have been celebrating the fact that ours is the highest tea producing zone in the entire world. In fact, this has been the highest pride of the state and even though many, so-called mainlanders cannot geographically locate where Assam is, but at least they can connect to “Assam Tea” with a lot of enthusiasm.
However, here I intend to co-relate “Tea” with “Tourism” which has been catching eyeballs around the world since past few years.
Tea and Tourism in Assam is interrelated and can never be separated. Tea Tourism is an independent genre and it has the caliber to be one of the best revenue earners of the state, provided it is treated and recognized to be so. The potential of Assam as a Tea-Tourism sector has already been established in the wider world but an initiative to develop it as an independent tourism sector still needs to be taken care of. Once done, I can assure, there will be no looking back.
The Britishers in Assam initiated something so profound that the glory of it is still inherent in our lives. Besides establishing the tea industry in Assam, they also brought about a new lifestyle around the tea plantations during their rule glorifying a world of laid-back leisure, sports, social – gatherings, and clubbing. They built bungalows which are still seen as icons of social status and a venerated past.
Many such bungalows have been turned to heritage resorts and they still retain the past era in every nook and corners. Some of the famous bungalows turned resorts are, Banyan Grove and Thengal Manor Bungalow in Jorhat, Chowkidihing Chang Bungalow in Dibrugarh, Wild Mahseer in Sonitpur, Wathai Heritage Bungalow in Tinsukia, to name a few. Staying and relenting to one of these is an experience of a lifetime. But an awareness should be generated among the tourist circles that we still retain the past colonial era in our state for an overwhelming experience.
The tea tribe of Assam is an indispensable part of the tourism sector in a broader sense. Their colorful culture and ways of life is an attraction for many foreign tourists. They prefer interactions with the local people and building such ties is an important part of developing community tourism. The special tea tribe tours if conducted in a planned and systematic manner, it can be a boast to the industry at large. This would help the local people to earn a better living.
Tea garden trek is an upcoming concept and should be considered with proper importance. Assam has more than 800 registered large tea gardens. So, it would not be a big task to sort out trekking zones considering the area and other logistical issues. Identifying such trekking zones would encourage tourists to jump on such adventures with trust and comfort.
There are tours that are conducted around the tea processing centers giving an overview of the whole tea processing scenario besides a visit to the tea auction center, tea testing experience, tea plucking experience, and a visit to tea research institutes. When everything on board is integrated together, we can plan a programme that could serve the purpose of being an independent tourism package and witness a change in the tourist inflow into the state.
Presently, the tourism sector of Assam is focusing on the wildlife abundance of the state. But if we divert a little and pay equal attention to the other genres, there can be an upheaval in terms of tourist flow which would ultimately make a change in the tourism revenue scenario.
Our state has so much diversity that if they are taken good care, we can be among the best tourism states in the entire country. The need of the hour is here with a new and booming tourism industry and as a concerned citizen, each one of us has a major role to play in its development.
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