SHILLONG: Union Minister of State DoNER Dr. Jitendra Singh on Monday said, “The Meghalayan Age is an event that would go a long way in positioning the State of Meghalaya as a much sought after tourism destination.” Singh said this while attending “The Meghalayan Age” Tourism Conclave at Thadlaskein, near Jowai, which was attended by tourism stakeholders and government officials.
Talking about the concerns across the country due to the coronavirus, Dr. Singh said, “The event was planned in a very big way but due to the advisory issued by the MoHFW, the event has been scaled down to a conclave, where different stakeholders were given an opportunity to delve into the immense potential that Meghalaya can open up to the visitors.”
Expressing gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Dr. Singh said, “In the last five years, the Government of India has provided adequate thrust for creating better infrastructure and promote the development of the Northeast. It is through a synergistic approach of the government and the right motivation from the States, the vision of the Prime Minister would be accomplished.”
Dr. Singh said that under the leadership of Modi, the Ministry of DoNER’s budget was increased two-fold. “Prior to the formation of the NDA government, the budget for NEC was roughly around Rs 700 crore. However, we have today increased the budget to about Rs 1,400 crore. We have different plans to promote and ensure the welfare of the region,” Dr. Singh emphasized.
Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma in his address, said that the Government of India has accorded top priority to the Northeast and this is paving the way for concerted development and growth of the region.
The Chief Minister said, “The Meghalayan Age is an attempt by the Government to provide an opportunity for visitors to experience Meghalaya.”
“We had big plans for the event. However, due to the health advisory on coronavirus, we restricted the event for invited stakeholders, which comprised of media professionals, tour operators, bloggers, etc., who will share our stories to the world.”
Talking at length about the ‘Act East Policy’ the Chief Minister stressed the need to explore the possibility of working collaboratively with India’s neighboring countries in the field of tourism, boosting cultural and economic ties.
“We as a government have realized the potential we have with our immediate neighbor Bangladesh. The country is moving very fast; they have a growth rate of almost 8 percent; its GDP is about 400 billion dollars. We have to look at the opportunity next door and build relations that would economically benefit our people.”
On initiatives Meghalaya has taken to take the State forward, the Chief Minister said that emphasis is being laid to attract investments and ensure sustainable development model of growth in sync with nature.
“We are blessed with nature and we want to work on initiatives that would be economical for our people as well as promote growth and development,” the Chief Minister exhorted.
Talking about tourism being one of the priority sectors, the Chief Minister said that the government is working on models to boost high-end tourism in the State that would be remunerative for the people and also ensure that Meghalaya is labeled as the sought after tourism destination not only in the country but globally.
During the 10-day event, renowned cave explorer Brian Kharpran took selected guests on a unique caving experience. Kharpran, who spoke during the conclave today said that in the past two decades they have explored 1,700 caves of about 514 km, which has led to discoveries of unique and exclusive species, the latest being the discovery of the largest cave-dwelling fish.
Rothell Khongsit from the Khongthong, popularly known as the ‘whistling village’ talked about the uniqueness of their culture and lifestyle of the people. He said that the event has given them the platform to tell there to stories to a very wide audience.
During the occasion, a book on tourism titled Glimpses was also launched.