Shillong: The past couple of years have witnessed an unprecedented upsurge of guest houses and homestays in Sohra (Cherrapunjee) due the heavy footfall of tourists. Homestays was once an alien concept to the residents of the place who even refused the government financial aided “bed and breakfast” scheme.
However, the success stories by some individuals who started guest houses in 2013 have raised the confidence of people so much that almost every nook and corner of Sohra are now sporting guest houses and homestays. According to Allan West Kharkongor, a local entrepreneur who ventured into this business in 2014, there are more than 100 homestays and guest houses catering to tourists coming to Sohra.
“The growing tourism industry in Sohra has reached such an extent that it has even taken over as the “rice bowl” from the sinking Meghalaya Cherra Cement Limited”, stated Kharkongor on how the people of Sohra once depended on the cement factory for employment.
He attributes social media, the Guwahati-Shillong four lane road and the growing confidence of the people to accommodate tourist for overnight stays as reasons that has generated a huge footfall of tourists especially during the peak season (June-July).
According to the Meghalaya Tourism Department, 18 lakh tourist visited the State in 2018; a huge increase when compared to the past years and Kharkongor is of the view that 16 lakh of those tourists visited one of the wettest place on earth.
Others in the same business said that there has been an increase of five to seven per cent in tourist inflow into Sohra in the past four-five years. “Right now, the number of homestays and guest houses cater to the tourists – high budget, premium and low budget. But if the surge continues in the peak seasons, nothing can’t be said”, the people in the business told this correspondent.
Kharkongor further added that the sudden boom in the tourism industry in Sohra has had ripple effects on the local economy. From taxi drivers to guides, food joints to the local markets, everybody are slowly reaping the fruits of the burgeoning tourism industry.
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