India’s first Cherry Blossom Festival starts in Meghalaya

Shillong, Nov 14 (IANS) Meghalaya on Monday became the first state to start India’s first Cherry Blossom Festival, which is widely celebrated in Japan.

The four-day festival will also provide opportunities to showcase the unique beauty of pink and white cherry blossoms as well as Meghalaya’s traditional arts, culture and cuisine to the naturalists and tourists.

Chief Minister Mukul Sangma inaugurated India’s first Cherry Blossom Festival in this state capital of Meghalaya, where cherry blossoms are in full bloom in several parts of the city and the suburbs.

Sangma said: “This nature’s gift of cherry blossoms to Meghalaya must be appreciated and is one of several elements that makes Meghalaya an attractive destination for tourists looking for a green destination and a short break away from the hustle and bustle of polluted cities.”

He also appreciated the partnership with Institute of Bioresources and Sustainable Development (IBSD) for joint conceptualisation and implementation of this humble yet successful start in putting Meghalaya onto the global tourist map.

The IBSD, a national institute of the Centre’s Department of Biotechnology, said the festival would not only bring socio-economic development in the region, but also promote peace, prosperity and sustainable development, which are the United Nation’s sustainable development goals.

IBSD Director Dinabandhu Sahoo, who conceptualised the Cherry Blossom Festival in India, said the event would set the stage for 2017, which has been declared by the UN as International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.

“This festival would create a number of opportunities for the people of Meghalaya,” he said, emphasising that collaborations should be developed with Japan so that more international tourists can visit the north-eastern states.

The Cherry Blossom Festival, popularly known as Sakura Festival in Japan, is held in April every year. Australia, Korea, China, the US and some other countries celebrate the festival which helps in creating a positive impact on the local economy.

The Washington DC Cherry Blossom Festival alone generates about $126 million from tourists every year from across the world, Sahoo said.