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Tourists flow ubated despite hiccups

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  26 July 2017 12:00 AM GMT

From A Reporter
SHILLONG, July 25: Despite the huge footfall of domestic tourists in Meghalaya in the recent past, lack of accommodation, basic amenities in the tourist hubs and the perennial traffic jams continue to act as dampener to many.
Meghalaya, Shillong in particular, has recently witnessed a huge inflow of tourist, especially after the turmoil in Darjeeling, but the tales of the visitor do not give a rosy picture at all.
However, the tourism infrastructure of the State has unfortutely not kept pace with the growth in the number of tourist arrivals, both domestic and foreign.
As per the statistics of the Directorate of Tourism, 6,85,567 tourists, including 6,80,254 domestic and 5,313 foreigners, had visited Meghalaya in 2012. In 2016, the number of tourist arrivals shot up to 8,39,363 – 8,30,887 domestic and 8,476 foreigners.
A couple of jourlists recently spoke to few domestic tourists and tried to find out their overall experience of staying in the State.
Neeloy Bhattacharyya, a tourist from Bhopal Madhya Pradesh, said, “I have heard a lot about Meghalaya being a tourist hotspot in the Northeast. However, it was very difficult to get proper accommodations as most of the time the hotels in Shillong are completely full.”
He said this problem of lack of accommodation can be addressed by the local population by starting home-stays for tourists. “It will also help generate employment,” he added.
When asked on the other major problems encountered by him and his family during their visit to the State Capital, he said, “There is just one, and that is the constant traffic congestion. However, the local people are very hospitable and the State is blessed with plenty of tourist destitions.”
On the other hand, another tourist Cinderella Khan from New Delhi, who has frequented Shillong on several occasions in the past, said that Shillong is truly beautiful, as described by many, and the atmosphere makes one feel on the top of the world.
“The lush greenery, beautiful hills and waterfalls entice one to come again and again to this beautiful place. The people have been extremely courteous and friendly. With me being a diehard non-vegetarian, Shillong has been an ideal spot,” she added.
She, however, lamented that food and stay in the capital city is costly and the hotel rooms, though not up to the mark, are exorbitantly charge, which is a minus point for many.
Echoing similar views, R Moirangthem from Manipur said that Shillong is a good summer retreat and it is much better than any other hill stations. He said the good thing about Meghalaya is that there is proper guidance for many tourist destitions
He, however, regretted that road connectivity to some tourist sports is not impressive and that some tourist spots are not maintained at all.
Meanwhile, on the overall tourism scerio in Meghalaya, Meghalaya Tourism Development Forum (MTDF) founder Chairman RG Lyngdoh said it is time people of the State take ownership of the tourism sector without waiting for the government’s intervention.
“It’s only when people take ownership of the sector, they will realize its business potential and look at the sector as a revenue-generating avenue,” Lyngdoh said.
Asked about certain instances when tourists in Meghalaya are allegedly not treated in a proper manner, he said all such instances are a hangover from the past when locals were kept isolated and taught to be suspicious of outsiders.
“You can’t get rid of such mindset so easily. It takes time. It cannot go until there is proper capacity building and awareness programmes for the people,” he said.
Calling for an aggressive awareness among stakeholders involved in the tourism sector, Lyngdoh said that people who visit Meghalaya must be provided with quality accommodation.
He regretted the fact that Shillong, despite being the capital city, does not possess public toilets in many areas and said that a lot needs to be done in this regard.

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