National

Meghalaya to host international cherry blossom festival next month

TV Jayan New Delhi | Updated on January 08, 2018 Published on October 16, 2017

Mukul M Sangma, Chief Minister, Meghalaya (left) with Dinabandu Sahoo, Director, IBSD releasing the brochure of India International Cherry Blossom Festival in New Delhi on Monday

Captivating bloombeckons tourists

Pining to watch those splendid pink-and-white cherry flowers in bloom? No need to fly to Japan or the US for the treat. Just head for Shillong, the picturesque capital of Meghalaya.

Come November, Meghalaya’s Khasi Hills will be awash with the captivating cherry blossom flowers.

The Meghalaya government, in association with the Institute of Bioresources and Sustainable Development (IBSD), Imphal, and the Indian Council of Cultural Relations, is organising India International Cherry Blossom Festival in Shillong between November 8-11, for the second year in a row.

Vast potential

“Last year, nearly 30,000 tourists, mostly domestic, participated in the festival. This year, we are expecting a total of 50,000 foreign and domestic tourists,” Chief Minister Mukul M Sangma told a press conference here on Monday.

The cherry blossom festivals have generated huge employment and revenues for various cities and countries as millions of visitors from different parts of the world travel to Japan, New Zealand and parts of Korea, Sangma said.

In Washington DC alone, the festival typically brings more than 1.5 million visitors, earning revenue of $400 million.

Realising the importance of cherry blossom to promote socio-economic development in the North-East through eco-tourism, IBSD, an institute under the Department of Biotechnology, initiated a major cherry blossom festival initiative in association with the Meghalaya government in 2015.

The State already has a large number of cherry blossom trees. Subsequently, IBSD undertook an initiative of planting cherry blossom trees along New Shillong, Mawphlang and Ward’s Lake, IBSD director Dinabandu Sahoo said.

Japanese assistance

Interestingly, as the news spread, a delegation from Japan arrived to popularise cherry blossom trees in India. Subsequently, cherry blossom trees were planted in Talkatora Gardens in New Delhi in February last year.

“Many States in the North-East have come forward to plant cherry blossom trees on a large scale. We are in talks with Manipur, Mizoram and Sikkim,” Sahoo said.

Cherry blossom trees normally take three years to boom. These States are also keen on holding similar festivals then, he said.

According to Sahoo, similar initiative is also planned in Jammu and Kashmir.

The climatic conditions in the State makes it possible to have the blooming in March- April months.

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Published on October 16, 2017
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