Noney (Manipur ) May 15 : There is no hotel in Noney but houses will soon open for tourists as the Manipur government plans to promote homestays in this picturesque town near Imphal, which is likely to have the state's first railway station, bringing rail connectivity to the capital city by 2020.
The 110km Jiribam-Imphal line will connect Imphal with the rest of the country through Silchar, Haflong, Lumding and Guwahati in Assam. It is expected not only to bring more tourists to the landlocked state but also help transport its agro-based products to the mainland.
"The town has 650 households and around 6,000 people. Instead of building hotels, the idea is to promote homestays, which will help tourists experience the local culture. While the state government will undertake most of the work, the railways will provide the infrastructure," A. Saibaba, chief engineer, construction, Northeast Frontier Railway, who is in charge of the Jiribam-Imphal project, said.
The project, with 137 bridges, will have the tallest girder bridge in the world at 141m and will itself be a tourist attraction when completed, officials said. The footfall of foreign tourists, mainly from Japan and South Korea, fell by six per cent (from 3,260 in 2015 to 3,064 in 2016) in Manipur, while there was only a three per cent growth of domestic tourists in this period.
This area of Manipur, 63km west of Imphal, is almost virginal as far as tourist influx is concerned. Officials said the region attracts niche tourists who prefer soft adventure, eco-tourism, luxury camping and untapped destinations.
"Not only is the railway route ripe with avenues for tourists, it also puts the capital city on the tourism route. It will also help Manipur products like handicrafts, bamboo and bananas to reach the other states quickly," an NFR official said .(PTI)