Both India and Bangladesh must give tourists from each other's country visa-on-arrival, Rashed Khan Menon, Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism said on July 15, according to a news agency.
"This is the only way to boost tourism between India and Bangladesh, specially between Bangla-desh and India's northeast," Menon told the inaugural session of the NADI festival-2016 involving India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal and Bhutan in Shillong.
A 149-member Bangla-desh delegation_ politicians, mediapersons, tour operators, bureaucrats and river experts_ led by Menon and Shahriar Alam, State Minister for Foreign Affairs, arrived in Shillong to attend the conference organised by local think tank Asian Confluence.
Menon said tourism cannot grow in a "suffocating visa regime."
The tourism minister said Bangladesh is 'very keen' to start a Biman Bangladesh Airlines flight from Dhaka to Guwahati and get the Dhaka-Shillong-Guwahati bus service functional as soon as possible.
He said India will have to open up "as many as possible" border check-posts along the border to boost tourism into Northeast India, which is landlocked and somewhat isolated from the Indian mainland.
Shahriar Alam called for developing river transport between India and Bangladesh, specially with India's Northeast.
"We are developing road and rail transport but we need to develop river connectivity. For that, we need to preserve and protect our rivers and not kill them by building too many dams," Alam said.
There has been a series of anti-dam movements in Northeast by indigenous organisations who feel such dams will destroy their ecology and natural resources.
Alam said that Ashuganj has been declared a port of call as part of the amendment to the Protocol on Indian Water Transit and Trade (PIWTT) which has been operational since 1971.
It is through Ashguganj that Tripura has been getting cargo transhipped through Bangladesh using its ports.
Mukul Sangma, Chief Minister, Meghalaya also stressed strongly for reviving crucial inland waterways between India's Northeast and Bangladesh.
"But the hydrology of these rivers have to be protected," Sangma said.
One minute's silence was observed at the conference in memory of those killed and injured in the recent Bangladesh terror attacks. http://www.bangladeshmonitor.com.bd/back-page/2016/07/16/5591