TOURISM IN RIVER ISLAND MAJULI: PROSPECTS AND PROBLEMS

Dibya Jyot Kalita
Research scholar (M. Phil), Department of Economics, Dibrugarh University,
Dibrugarh, Assam, India


Abstract
Majuli is one of the premier places of the Vaishnavite culture. Every year a large number of visitors and tourists came to Majuli to see Sattras and its Sattriya culture. Majuli is also having numerous wetlands, chaporis which are the breeding grounds of rich flora and fauna. Majuli was shortlisted in the World Heritage Site (WHS) ‘Tentative List’ under the cultural category, at the 28th Annual Session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee (WHC), held at Suzhou, China. Majuli was declared as the largest river island in the world by Guinness World Records on 1st September 2016. On 8th September 2016, Majuli Island was declared as the first island district of India by Government of Assam. The present study explores the potentiality of tourism activities in river island Majuli. The study also finds out the reasons for which tourists are visiting Majuli and assesses the opinion of tourists regarding various aspects of Majuli, using primary data. Primary data has been collected from tourists through direct personal interviews.

Key words: Vaishnavite Culture, World Heritage Site, Island District, Tourism

1.Introduction
Today, every country in the world is looking up to tourism as an important factor in the growth and development of the national prosperity. The ever-growing size of the tourism market all over the world promises immense possibility and expectation for both developed and developing nations. With expanding global affluence, increasing facilities of various modes of transportation and the considerable leisure time at people’s disposal, the tourist traffic has been heading towards tremendous increase at an accelerated rate over the years (Mishra and Konar, 2008). The World Tourism Organization (WTO) defines tourism as, ‘‘activities related to persons travelling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business or other purposes” (GoI, 2013).

Set amidst the mighty river Brahmaputra, Majuli is one of the largest inhabited river islands in the world. The Island is bounded by three Rivers: the Kherkutia Suti (a spill channel of the Brahmaputra River) on the north-east, the Subansiri River and her tributaries on the north-west and the Brahmaputra River on the south and south-west. Majuli was created as a result of periodical natural changes in the course of the river Brahmaputra caused by frequent major earthquakes in different times as well as high floods (MCLMA, 2014). Majuli is situated between 26°45'N to 27°12'N Latitude and 93°39'E to 94°35'E Longitude. The island is about 80 km wide and about 10-15 km long. Majuli is well known for having suffered from severe bank erosion and flooding. As per the land survey records of 1950, the total habitable landmass was 1245.12 sq. km but according to the Brahmaputra Board, total area of the island is only 522.73 sq. km in 2013.
On 26th January 1979, Majuli was declared as a civil sub-division of Jorhat District and on 8th September 2016, Majuli was declared as first island district of India by Assam Government. According to census report 2011, Majuli has 248 small and large villages. In 2011, the total population of Majuli was 1, 67,304 of which 85,566 (51.14%) were males and 81,738 (48.86%) females. According to the census of 2001, the density of population on the island was 362 per sq. km. In 2011, the total number of households in Majuli is 32,236. The sex ratio of Majuli population is 955 females per thousand males in 2011. The overall literacy rate of Majuli is 68.05 per cent in 2011, of which male literacy consist of 74.76 per cent and female literacy rate consist of 61.34 per cent. The people of Majuli engage in different economic activities for their livelihood. The people of Majuli mainly are farmers which carried out different types of agricultural practices at different seasons of a year.
Majuli is one of the premier places of the Vaishnavite culture. At present, there are only 31Sattras in Majuli. Majuli is also having numerous wetlands, chaporis which are the breeding grounds of rich flora and fauna. Majuli was shortlisted in the World Heritage Site (WHS) ‘Tentative List’ under the cultural category, at the 28th Annual Session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee (WHC), held at Suzhou, China. Majuli Island was declared as the largest river island in the world by Guinness World Records on 1st September 2016.
2.Objectives
  • to explores the potentiality of tourism activities in river island Majuli.
  • to find out the reasons for which tourists are visiting Majuli.
  • to assesses the opinion of tourists regarding various aspects of Majuli. 
3.Methodology
The present study is based on primary data. Primary data are collected from tourists through direct personal interviews using well-structure schedule. Data are collected from tourists boarded at different resorts in Kamalabari and Garamur area and different guest houses in Sattras and thereafter a sample of 135 tourists had been selected at random as final observations. The survey was conducted in 2015 starting from 5th of November to the 17th of December. The survey was purposely conducted in this time period because many famous festivals like Paal Naam, Raas Utsav, etc. are celebrated in Majuli in this time period, so many visitors from different parts of Assam came to Majuli. And in this time period, the Kaziranga National Park was also open for tourists; so many tourists who visited the Park also visited Majuli at the same time.

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