While Meghalaya Government focuses on making the state, the next tourism destination post-COVID 19, stresses are given to the development of rural areas in streamlining the development of tourism infrastructure.
A vision document entitled ‘Meghalaya Tourism – The Next Chapter 2020 and Beyond’ has suggested the need for a regulatory authority in the rural areas to streamline the development of tourism infrastructure and hospitality services keeping in mind the concept of high-value tourism.
The vision document was handed over to the Chief Minister, Conrad K Sangma by the Meghalaya Tourism Development Forum (MTDF) during a meeting held on Monday.
Also present in the meeting were other tourism stakeholders from the Meghalaya Rural Tourism Forum (MRTF) and Federation of Shillong Hotels (FOSH).
The vision document also includes the treks and trails of Meghalaya which highlighted the USP of destinations in Meghalaya particularly the rural areas which have attracted visitors who love nature and pristine ecosystems from all over the country and the world.
After giving them a patient hearing, Chief Minister shared about the plans of the government with regard to tourism development in the state and said that the goal of high-value tourism was the long-term strategy of the government.
Sangma added that there were a number of ideas and projects in the pipeline which the department has initiated towards building a strong tourism ecosystem in the state.
He also shared that the government has been successful in getting a 700 crore aid to develop tourism in the state.
The chief minister admitted that there was a need for regulating haphazard construction in rural areas and added that there was a long term plan of creating iconic structures in Shillong.
He added that the infrastructure created should be self-sustaining and also emphasized that the Government would not involve itself in the Tourism business and trade but facilitate private enterprise in this sector.
With regards to air travel, the chief minister gave the example of the USA model where a small 20 – 30 seater jet aircraft was a viable option.
Further, he hoped that the government can open up the State to tourists but he also cautioned that this was subject to the prevailing pandemic situation.
The chief minister further suggested holding a Tourism conclave between the tourism department and the tourism stakeholders in the days to come for a better understanding and deliberation of the tourism issues.
Earlier during the meeting, the stakeholders pointed out the danger of haphazard constructions in the destinations which have spoilt the natural beauty of the pristine ecosystems.
Sustainable tourism was emphasized throughout the vision document for Meghalaya taking into consideration the pressure of mass tourism which was not desired in the long term.
The MTDF also proposed to the Chief Minister who is also in charge of Tourism to restrict the construction of highrise structures and suggested a mechanism that is based on aesthetics and structures that blend with the ecosystem of the area.
The presentation also drew attention to the need to keep the waterfronts in Lakes and river destinations free from structures for at least 50 metres away so as to maintain the beauty and sanctity of the water bodies.
Another aspect was the development of Shillong as a tourist hub with an Art & Music hub in the old Assembly campus, a Hawkers Market in the Meghalaya Transport depot property, more parking spaces, and green space at Barik PWD campus.
The document emphasized the need for integration of agriculture, horticulture, fisheries, and other departments with Tourism as a holistic approach towards achieving the long term goals. EOM