There is no hotel here, but houses in Noney will soon be open for tourists as the Manipur government plans to promote homestay in this picturesque town, which is likely to have the first railway station near Imphal, bringing rail connectivity to Manipur’s capital city by 2020.
The 110-km the Jiribam-Imphal line will connect Imphal to the rest of the country through Silchar, Haflong, Lumding and Guwahati in Assam and is expected to not only bring more tourists to the landlocked north-eastern state but also help transport its agro-based products to the mainland easily.
“The town has 650 households and around 6,000 people. Instead of building hotels, the idea is to promote homestay, which will help the tourists experience the local culture. While the state government will undertake most of the work, the railways will provide the infrastructure,” A Saibaba, Chief Engineer, Construction, Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR), who is in charge of the Jiribam-Imphal project, said.
The project with 137 bridges will have the tallest girder bridge in the world at 141 metres and will itself be a tourist attraction when completed, officials said.
The footfall of foreign tourists—who mainly come from Japan and South Korea—fell by six per cent, from 3,260 in 2015 to 3,064 in 2016, in Manipur, while there was only a three-per cent growth in terms of domestic tourist arrival during the period.
However, this area of Manipur—located around 63 kilometres west of Imphal—is almost virginal as far as tourist influx is concerned.
According to officials, the north-eastern states attract niche tourists who prefer soft adventure, eco-tourism and luxury camping. The region is also on the wishlist of those who prefer to visit untapped destinations.
“The railway line will connect Imphal to Lumding and Silchar in south Assam as well as Haflong, which is Assam’s only hill station. Not only is the route ripe with avenues for tourists, it also puts the capital city on the tourism route. It will also help Manipuri products like handicrafts, bamboo, bananas to reach the other states quickly,” an NFR official said.
According to officials, homestay in the region will be funded by the state government.