The relaxation of Protected Area Permit (PAP) by Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) would not only mean lesser processes for the visiting foreigners, but also for inbound agents. Here is what they have to…
Jatinder Pal Singh Taneja, Hon. Secretary, PATA India and Managing Director, Travel Spirit International
The decision is definitely going to help in the future, both for the visiting foreigners, as well as the agents. Earlier the movement in these areas were restricted as there were many formalities to be fulfilled before sending the clients there. There were many things to be considered before planning a trip in these areas for the client. However, now with this initiative, things would be better. It would be beneficial for us as well. Now, infrastructural developments need to be made, which is very important. Right from roads, hotels to wayside amenities — everything has to be created to suit the tourists’ needs. It would allow the business to increase as well.
Atul Rai, Managing Director, Ananya Tours
It’s a very progressives step, indicating the transparent and simplicity in the way the government is adopting to visit the diversified areas of the country. Northeast offers virgin areas and diverse tribes, which we would love to promote. Earlier we had to plan much ahead for foreigners and ask for passports and details well in advance to get prior permissions. However, now it would make the planning faster and easier for us, allowing us to offer better itineraries. It’s a welcome step since it would allow tourists to explore a lot more in India. This will be the experiential part of travel that visitors are looking out for in the country, apart from the classic Golden Triangle tours, which they usually do.
EM Najeeb, Sr. Vice-President, IATO and MD, Air Travel Enterprises India
It is a welcome step by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to allow foreign tourists visit these protected areas and explore the pristine surroundings there. While the most sensitive areas would still need permission to visit, this move shows that the government is understanding the need of the travellers, and the decision to relax the permit is in favour of the tourism industry. It will be extremely beneficial for the foreigners who are coming here to see such places and enjoy the culture, beauty and nature of these areas. Now, the tourists would be very happy to go there and enjoy the
facilities in these regions, which would also be developed in the near future. The government has a right approach and attitude towards tourism right now and it’s a positive gesture by them. I think the industry — the tour operators and foreigners, will appreciate it together.
Lally Matthews, Director, Vacations Travels & Tours
The relaxation of PAP has come as a positive news for the industry and enthusiastic travellers. However, there will be no immediate impact of these relaxations, as people still would have to decide on their programme and it will take time to develop new itineraries covering these regions. It’s good that they have relaxed the permit and hopefully foreigners will visit all those virgin destinations, which would allow them to explore a new side of India. We also have to see how the connectivity and infrastructure in those areas is looked at. Once that is developed, it’s going to be a goldmine for tourism. We weren’t getting many queries for these areas earlier, apart from some areas in Sikkim, for which we had to take special permit. However, now the relaxation of the permits would open many doors, allowing tourists to get new experiences in the country apart from the usual tours.
JK Jhala, MD, Transline Tours & Travels
This relaxation would help a lot because earlier when we used to send the groups or FITs, they had to go to many windows and get help from land handlers. However, now if someone wishes to visit Nagaland, it will be much easier. The tribes we have in Mizoram, Nagaland and Assam are experiences that are exclusive to India. I think we will be able to bring more people’s interest in the culture and tribes of these areas and many other places in the country. When a special permit is required, tourists will think 10 times about the risk, but now they will feel safe.
Deepak Bhatnagar, EC Member, IATO and MD, Aamantaran Travels
Earlier, getting a special permit to visit these places was a hindrance and even travellers were speculative. Now foreign tour operators will include these areas in their itineraries. It will become accessible to foreigners and we can promote it further. However, now infrastructure, including proper roads and hotels should be there, allowing tourists to have a good stay there. The local government and bodies should now develop the right infrastructure for the tourists.