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Himalayan Orange Tourism Festival celebrates its 5th year in Kolkata

KOLKATA-   A 20 member’s delegation comprising of Tour operators, Homestay operators and officials of the state tourism department participated in the 5th edition of Himalayan Orange Tourism Festival (popularly known as the HOT Festival) held at City Centre 1, Salt Lake Sector 1 (Opposite Gorkha Bhawan), Kolkata, from 9th to 11th of December. Participants from various fields promoting Rural and cultural Tourism in Arunachal Pradesh have the opportunity to showcase the Rural Tourism products of the state. The Festivals aims at bringing together all stakeholders from Nepal, North Bengal and North Eastern state providing them a platform to interact and understand about the importance of promoting rural tourism and also gives an exposure to the local communities.

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This is the 5th year of the Himalayan Orange Tourism Festival, which is held every alternate year. The festival started in 2014. This is the largest Himalayan Rural Tourism Festival in Asia and aims to provide fresh oranges directly from the North Bengal and North Eastern regions. The participation is impressive as 85 villages of Bengal Himalayan landscape, 12 from Sikkim, 81 from Eastern Nepal, 20 from Arunachal Pradesh, and 6 from different parts of East and Northeast India- have all participated in the orange festival.

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The festival was inaugurated on 9th December and graced the local MLA Mr Sujit Bose, Minister State Fire and emergency services, Govt. of West Bengal in presence of many iconic who had been pioneer in promoting Rural Tourism. While representing Arunachal Tourism, Smti Bengia M Sonam, (Dy Director) informed the gathering that since Arunachal is a tribal state housed with 26 major tribes and more than 120 sub tribes, visitors will experience rural life everyday and one can witness the local festivals every month of different tribes apart from the annual Tourism festival.

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The best season being September to April the visitors are welcome to visit the Arunachal Pradesh to experience the local hospitality as off late many home stays have come up in the state providing the lifetime experience of tribal culture. With the coming up of the Donyi-Polo Airport at Holongi, the ease of travelling to Arunachal Pradesh have been made easier with a direct domestic flight connecting Kolkata.

Footfall of around 65000 with participants of 30 travel agent and  Rural entrepreneur of 7 countries were recorded and as many as 35 numbers of stalls selling oranges from different regions such as from Arunachal Pradesh, Nepal, and Darjeeling in the festival venue. There are also stalls on the local specialties of every region, “shitolpati” (a mat mostly used in summer to cool a place), baskets made from barks of different trees, orchids from the forests, succulent plants of various types, and last but not the least, food stalls where momos, thukpas, and other regional specialties are being sold.

The Arunachal Pradesh stall is selling oranges was sold out in the very first day of the festival. Kiwi’s, Homemade pickles, Smoked teas, handloom and handicraft products etc which was available in the Arunachal stall which was enthralled by the large number of visitors before inauguration of the stall.

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A lot of orange enthusiasts have already reached the place. Ashok Majumdar, a regular visitor to the orange festival, said, “This is the fourth time I am visiting the orange festival. We eagerly wait every year for the festival as we get authentic Darjeeling oranges here. We buy at least 4 to 5 boxes.” The North Eastern communities have also prepared some programmes that highlight their culture.

Ramkumar Lama, one of the organizers of the event said, “It is a great pleasure to be a part of the Orange festival, where different communities from different regions come together to celebrate such a culturally rich event.” Our day starts with a cup of Darjeeling tea, similarly, we do a lot of things that are intensely related to the North East. The festival also aims towards strengthening the ties with the North Eastern States and building harmony with the communities.

On the last day of the festival ,Legendary Sport person Shri Bhaichung Bhutia who is also an Ambassador for Association for conservation & Tourism(ACT) and also a pioneer ion Sustainable Tourism Implantations Popularly known as Gurubas under the campaign #Boots2Roots.

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