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The second edition of India International Cherry Blossom Festival was inaugurated here today with a view to popularising the state as a tourism destination with the advent of blossoming of cherry trees. An initiative of the Imphal-based Institute of Bioresources & Sustainable Development (IBSD), the festival, the only cherry blossom festival celebrated in autumn, is also supported by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR). Inaugurating the festival, Forest and Environment Minister Clement Marak said the state government is focusing on promoting tourism potential of Meghalaya by organising such festivals which not only boost tourism but also projects the positive image of the state. Stating that Cherry Blossom Festival is also held in Japan, the USA, Switzerland and Korea, Marak expressed hope that in a few years, this one of Meghalaya too would get international recognition. The minister also released a special cover stamp on the 2nd India International Cherry Blossom Festival. Some tourists, however, were not happy as the cherry trees are yet to bloom in full colours at least in identified destinations like Wards Lake and Golf Links area in the city. Asked about this late flowering of the cherry trees, IBSD director Dr D Sahoo said it was due to the prolonged rainfall and warmth which affected the flowering. In the past two years, the cherry trees have been in full bloom by November first week, he said. The organisers have arranged vehicles to higher reaches of Upper Shillong where Cherry trees are in full bloom, he said.
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