Thursday, October 23, 2008

New look of Arunachal Tourism official site

While going through the recent comments section, I had to navigate to the post where I had written how the tagline-'Gateway to Serenity' came into being for the Department of Tourism, Government of Arunachal Pradesh (Read the story here.) The post led me to navigate to the official site of Arunachal Tourism. I was quite impressed by it's new simple look (see snapshot at left), which has elements of Web 2.0 design (if I'm not wrong) and I'm glad that the state government departments are trying to make their official site more vibrant unlike the NIC managed dull sites. Just check state government's official site. Coming back to the Arunachal Tourism site-Hey! where is the logo and the tagline? Have they forgotten to include the logo in the design or has purposefully refrained from using the logo...*wicked smile*...

One of the turn downs that makes both foreign and domestic tourists from putting Arunachal Pradesh in their itinerary is the Entry Formalities i.e., RAP & ILP and the lack of information on how to obtain them. The section Entry Formalities of the site just covers that and gives information on where to apply for ILP or RAP. However, it fails to address one pertinent question-How long does it take to obtain ILP or RAP? Also the section is updated with the information on recent relaxation in entry formalities for foreign visitors.

The Destination Section has a brief on existing travel circuits like places of interest, how to reach, where to stay etc. But I failed to understand why destination Tawang and West Kameng alone has been given dedicated full pages and not for other destinations?

Besides, the site has briefs on Festivals, Arts and Crafts, People, Wildlife and Orchids and information on government registered tour operators.

So head on to the official tourism site of Government of Arunachal Pradesh for information on entry formalities, travel circuits etc., if you are planning a trip to Arunachal, soon.

16 comments:

  • Arun

    Thanks for the info. Finally an exhaustive compilation of accommodation and destinations of Arunachal. Info was hard to come by earlier.

  • Arif Siddiqui

    Thanks AG for highlighting this. I am following this site since many days and personally think it is still not fully launched. My friend Tom Simai reacted like this - "Festivals being an integral part of tribal society, the improvised site accentuate the hope of delivering detailed info about the many fabulous festivals of the state. With the anticipation high, an excited click and lo! Behold the hopeful expectations shattering into pieces. The exotic imaginations splits apart as I stare in utter dismay and strive to apprehend the fragmentary statistics of the festivals. I presume, if someone decides to elaborate the numerous festivals of the divine dawn than it’ll produce many mindboggling volumes but here it was boorishly concluded in few hundred words. It really puzzled me that a colossal theme like the ethnic festivals that requires broader elucidation was accomplished with a few brief notes.
    From the disappointing Festival section I drifted my focus to the Events segment that assures to prosper the tourism industry by enticing guest with its splendor. A halfhearted click on the word Event and the depressing contents blackouts my blissful cerebration. In disbelief, with aggression I scroll the page several times to contain my brimming frustration. Virtual delights ceases and admiration begin to fades due to the sad sight of Events Genocide displayed on the monitor. Posing the frown of the century, I try to thrash the humiliating shock. The apathetic click on the Events section exhibited only 5 Events, all belonging to a single province called Tawang. It is an excruciating revelation that spontaneously attracts disappointment because some ground-breaking and successful annual events of the state have been ostracized from the site. Was it an act of complete ignorance or a hypocritical act to get a pat on the back?
    As a matter of fact, the negligence and buffoonery act is enough to hurt the sentiments of any patriotic Arunachalee. No offence please but alike Tawang, the rest of Arunachal is also the repository of ancient heritages and the proprietor of abundant bio-assets as well celebrates mammoth events annually to promote the tourism prospect of that particular region. It is the height of ridiculousness that the ethnical extravaganzas like the Siang Festival; Brahmaputra Darshan; Pangsau Pass Winter Festival etc. are excluded from the events list and doesn’t get any fleeting mention on a significant site like ‘Arunachal Tourism.’ The flaws are many but the genuine efforts put forward in conceiving the site are exemplary and praiseworthy. Perhaps, next time another optimistic click on the site called ‘Arunachal Tourism’ will rejuvenate all the fabulous festivals on its pages and demonstrate the euphoria of all the existing mega Events rather than painting one solitary figure in such colossal canvas."

  • AG

    @Arun,

    Thx for stopping by.

    @Arif,

    Nice to see you commenting after a long time. I do feel that there are lots that need to be addressed in the new official Arunachal Tourism site.Tom has elaborated quite well about the site and it's drawbacks by his words that I failed to put in my post. Thank you Tom.

    Still looking forward to your contributions on Arunachal Diary...cheers!!!

  • buru

    I have said this before-- Tourism is never, under the present political climate( Indo-China), going to take-off as a sustainable mode for AP. Waaay more funds have been wasted on ' promoting' tourism than the returns, and I dont see any in the near( or distant) future too.
    It is better to concentrate on niche areas like rubber, tea, vanilla, orchids,apples,oranges & pineapple juices,etc , till we move on to industries.

  • Arif Siddiqui

    Thanks AG, I am a little busy with some other priorities but never missing a single post of this blog.
    To add more, we are having a big event, Buddha Mahotsava, next month 9-11 in Tawang. The preparations are going on war footing both in the Capital and in Tawang. Surprisingly nobody cared to publicize this mega tourist festival over web, the strongest media of getting tourists involvement these days. I personally talked to few officials to update this event over all official sites but they are too busy in the field preparation that perhaps they forgot the main purpose of this tourist festival. Even Tawang NIC is muted on this issue. I requested authorities to supply me the logo of festival and official information about happenings of this event so I can update it to on my website and as well as pass on to other related sites and blogs. Presently the only a small piece of info over web is here (uploaded my me) - http://www.usafestival.net/
    In my opinion a little proper planning can make the difference. I believe, we are not underestimating the potential of tourism but seems satisfied (or ignored ?) with whatever numbers of tourists we are getting today on routine basis. Everybody knows publicity over internet cost nothing in comparison to other modes of publicity which never reaches to target addressees.
    @ Buru.
    I respect your views but I am not agreeing with you on tourism sector. I personally gets average two to three calls in a week (Funny thing is that tourism department floated my mobile number in tour operator section of their website, where they made “Pangsau Pass Winter Festival” a registered tour operator) from unknown callers intending to visit Arunachal from different places of India and seeking information about our state. This frequency increases in winter and holiday times. Apart from that some foreign travel agencies, particularly one from Italy who are looking new avenues for their clients has contacted several time considering me a travel agent from the state. Here I would like to mention that most of the registered tour operators listed in govt website are not regular on their given e mails and phones numbers are either outdated or not being attended as reported by most of the callers.
    Buru, as we are habituated to see our hills/river/nature since childhood, we don’t find anything charming and attractive but if you view the things from the eyes of people living in polluted metros, will realize the power of this virgin land, being an outsider I can visualize the differences. Recently when I was at Bhalukpong for Chindang festival, got a chance to interact with a touring Bengali family from Kolkata who were back from Tawang and mistaken me as another tourist, expressed excitedly “Where to go on holidays? Kashmir is disturbed, UP/Uttaranchal is dirty, South is standoffish, NE is den of terrorists but this Arunachal is the most peaceful, save and unpolluted place. This magical valley (Tawang) is a pleasant revelation and amusing altercation. Down here people are so warm and friendly that everyone has time to reciprocate the smiles”.
    I am not sure about the authenticity of this but one representative of CNN (International) told me over telephone that Department of Tourism, Govt. of India is all set to take Arunachal as their Incredible India Campaign around the globe next year.

  • wiian

    It's a pretty neat redesign. From the look of it, the tourism department looks real active, I am wondering why tourism itself isn't taking off in a big way.

    Personally, i believe tourism can change the face of Arunachal, more than any other industry.

  • Moli

    That's a happy news. Thanks for the info.
    As for now, Tawang deserves a separate space in the site before anything else. We shouldn't get sentimental every time complaining of discrimination.
    Only thing we can do is find a way to make our traditions more attractive.
    Ready to discuss solutions if interested.

  • Buru

    Arif,

    2-3 calls/week for a 'registered' tour operator in the official website is a drop-in-ocean compared to places where tourism is a sustainable industry.And one foreign agency attempting to contact? Tourist places like Goa, Sri Lanka and Thailand have foreigners coming in chartered planeloads, with hotels booked months-yrs ahead.
    I am fully aware of the beauty of AP, as I have been to multiple countries and saw them selling lesser ware.But AP is located in an extraordinarily difficult place to reach,complicated by politics; so unless the reasons are extraordinary, the average tourists are not going to come.
    In the glitz of publicity one must not remember the numbers game-- a certain threshold has to be crossed to make it sustainable.
    Now the average India middle-class, say from Bangalore can easily go to Kodagu hills for its mild clime and tribal atmosphere. From Chennai they drive to Ooty or Kodai. From Mumbai to Khandala, From Ahmedabad to pachmarhi/saputara, central India to Bastar hills, Andhra to Araku, Bengal to Sikkim/DJ, Orissa to its tribal Hills, Whole of North India to the Uttaranchal/HP/Kashmir etc etc. These are easy drives,relatively better roads, have a similar landscape and alternate culture, are well stocked with ' sites' and fully equipped with all amenities.
    Then why would the average Joe, who wants just some rest and recreation for a few days, take a weeklong journey to AP and another week to get back, across militant-infested, roadblock-prone areas where their life and limb may be risked, with much higher expenditure to boot??When they can easily savor slightly lesser fare in their own areas?
    Same goes for the average foreigner-- who just want to get out of their freezing winter and have some good time --culture/drugs/wine/women circuit, come all the way to AP? Taking multiple unreliable flights just to reach the periphery and spending exhorbitant sums, not to mention navigating myriads of archaic rules??We have to remember, ethnic tribals/hills/rivers are also seen with vibrant cultures in places like Thailand, Cambod, Laos, Viet, Indon, etc which are in our neighbourhood -- and they are much easier to access, are better packaged, safer, cheaper ,and forms part of SEA circuit for easy country-hopping.
    So then who are the people who have been coming to AP, like the ones you met in BP? There will always a small # of hardcore/adventurous tourists who will come no matter what.Even they can only come during long breaks( like , say, Annual Holidays and DurgaPuja break)because of the logistics and cost.So in other words, howsoever we may like to, everything is standing against tourism as a viable option. It is not enough if we have a beautiful state-- there are other factors involved.Even small countries like Srilanka, Thailand and Singapore get more tourists than India for that reason.Otherwise Kamchatka Peninsula would have been swarming with tourists if only beauty and wilderness were criterions.It is much cheaper,shorter and hassle-free for a tourist from Bang/Chennai/Delhi/Kol to fly to/from , say, Bangkok or Colombo, than to AP!
    That leaves just one viable option-- NICHE tourism. This is a low-volume, high-returns area, where the tourists are willing to brave-all to come. AP can thus develop mountaineering,Rafting, Angling,Buddhist prayer-cicuits,etc .
    That is the reason I have been advocating other realistic modes of self-employment in AP, and for no other reason.Hope I am wrong.Anyway I enjoy your photos, keep it up!

  • AG

    @Arif,

    Just checked the link. Not much of info. I'd appreciate if you do a post on Buddha Mahotsava for AD as and when you are updated about the details of the festival by the officials you have talked to.

    @wiian,

    What do you have to say on the sites technicalilty like ease of navigation etc....

    @Moli,

    No I was not trying to cry foul over the 'discrimination' as you have mentioned. I was only wondering "Was it an act of complete ignorance or a hypocritical act to get a pat on the back?" as Tom Simai has put in his words...when I felt that other places of Arunachal had similar if not more tourist attraction. Doesn't the official site meant for publicizing and attracting tourists to the state as a whole?

    @Buru,

    You have a point here when you give your arguments on what could possibly be wrong that is not taking Arunachal Pradesh in Tourism map as envisaged and I agree to most of it. But here in this post we are discussing about the look, design aspect, technicality, content etc., of the new redesigned official Arunachal Tourism Site. I'd love to hear from you on that front too.:)

  • Buru

    AG,

    The point I had obliquely tried to make with my first post was that: all these money, time and energy should have been re-directed by the Govt on better prospects, not on projects doomed to fail.As it is, we are not swimming in excess money.I feel using the catchword ' tourism ' both the state & central Govts are taking us for a ride.I have nothing to comment on the official site, as the coming and going of tourists have hardly anything to do with it but with the ease of logistics.
    Such fatuous projects are all too common in AP-- 2 other useless( but moneymaking projects for the babus)examples which come to the mind immed are: The Gobar Gas projects and Apna Van Projects.

  • Moli

    @ AG
    Yes it does .. now, what I meant was .. at the earliest Tawang deserves a place in the site if not any other place .... Others will come up or Should come up, yes, that the administration should care to

  • arif_arunachal

    @ Buru (In reference to 2nd post)
    You have some very valid,strong and logical points, almost incontrovertible but I wish perhaps we should have a different Arunachal, dissimilar to others, one day.
    Appreciate your encouraging words for my photos.

    @AG
    Surely, shall do if it comes in time. Though I am going to attend this event and shall post pictures after my return.

  • Buru

    Arifbhai,

    I appreciate your taking my constructive criticism in the right spirit.Unbeknownst to you, I always follow-up on your wonderful photos in the net, esp Flickr! You have not just technical expertise, but also have a great sense of timing, angle,etc.You also sure know a few pretty lasses;))Your love for your work and AP is far higher than most 'locals'.I hope you all will prove me wrong with a vibrant tourism.
    (*Personally I dislike tourism, esp the Foreign tourists, having seen the damage they do to the social fabric)

  • AG

    @Moli,

    Hope the people responsible for maintaining and updating the site would come up with the details of other places of interest as well ;)

    @Arif,

    Looking forward to the pics that you would capture during the event.

  • Rome Mele

    Thx AG, for the updation.
    Just had a glance.
    A little bit of hearty reckoning that things might change atleast for the Arunachal Tourism in this webworld front. Our tech weary govt depts are atleast taking out times to look good. Lets be hopeful, thats the least we can do.

    And the contents of the tourism dept website certainly needs some serious reworks, but I guess that would be more possible or best if people contributes toward it.

    Heh... thats Department's work right!!!
    Sheer me...

  • dani sulu

    Friends, excuse me for being off the track for I could not keep myself from expressing my agreement with BURU. Not withstanding the good words and good works Arif has done for Arunachal Tourism, I am wont to agree with BURU that we need to create economic system which is sustainable and more practical in a state like that of ours. We have limited resource and this resources needs to be employed in a manner which will help develop an economy which is self reliant.
    Not that Arunachal is not a paradise in itself. But to spend so much on its promotion, we need to look hard and clear in the mirror and ask ourselves how healthy and reliable the tourism sector is. Having visited places like Kathmandu, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Ajmer, Nainital, Himachal and other tourist places where tourists almost outnumber the locals, I have a feeling that number of visitors which will make Arunachal a self reliant economy is nowhere nearby.
    We can devote our energy and resources in avenues like horticulture, agriculture, forestry products which are our strength and which will be more sustainable.
    We need to have a plan for development of revenue generating industry to come off the begging bowls indian tax payers.
    We have to escape from the parasitic mentality into a symbiotic relation with rest of India to salvage some pride in having earned our bread than being dependent on the crumbs thrown around by the citizens of rest of the country. Taking a leaf out of our chinese brothers we need to infuse resource into human resource development and population planning rather than controling. Rest of the development will take care of itself if we take care of managementof human resource.
    "Praise of any kind is always welcome as long as my stomachs are full, body clothed and there is a roof over my head without tying me down from chasing my dreams."

    Thus spake Yasiyalow

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