TURA: As part of the celebrations of World Tourism Day, Meghalaya Tourism, in collaboration with the Outlook Responsible Tourism Future Forum, organized a one-day workshop on 'Homestays' with this year's theme, 'Rethinking Tourism' at the District Auditorium at Tura in the West Garo Hills of Meghalaya on Tuesday.
Attending the second session of the workshop as the chief guest, Tura MP Agatha K Sangma, dwelling on "Atithi Devo Bhava" or "Guest is akin to God", said that hospitality is the key to promote tourism and informed that the present Government has taken a very keen interest to promote tourism in the State. She also urged the homestay runners not to lose the species diversity in the name of promoting tourism, though livelihood is very important and stressed on the need to have a sort of policing to prevent species from being destroyed. She also declared the river rafting tourism of Ja'riponchi Tourism Society of Nongalbibra open, stated a press release.
The Director of Tourism, CVD Diengdoh, while speaking at length on the importance of homestays, informed that the Government has launched a very unique 'Meghalaya Homestays Scheme' which has converged the existing PMEGP with the schemes from the Tourism Department and tied up with the Meghalaya Rural Bank. He also informed that Rs 750 crore has been approved by the Central Government for Meghalaya Tourism Infrastructures Development.
West Garo Hills Deputy Commissioner Swapnil Tembe, while speaking as the chief guest at the first session of workshop, said that Garo Hills has tourism potentials which are yet to be tapped and Meghalaya, being a rural agrarian economy, is an excellent model for rural and eco-tourism. He also informed that for promotion of local wine and beverage like "Bitchi" or rice beer, two licenses have been issued to the local wine makers under the new excise rules.
During the day-long workshop, Jaideep Bansal and his team members from Global Himalayan Expedition enlightened the local homestay runners on "Technology, sustainability and homestays" while Sumesh Mangalasseri from Kabani Community Tourism and Services, Kerala, deliberated on "The business of running homestays".
CB Ramkumar, the Board Member and India Country Representative of Global Sustainable Tourism Council, spoke at length on "Global standard, local spirit, sustainable business and tourism advantages and risks"
Others who spoke during the workshop included Shrutika Dewan, the Marketing Director of Outlook Group.
The homestay runners who shared their experiences included Darmen G Momin of Sasatgre village, Sherleen Sawkmie of Tura and Mahan M Sangma of Emangre village.
During the workshop, the keynote address was delivered by Soity Bannerjee, the Project Editor of Outlook Responsible Tourism Initiative.
The Assistant Director of Tourism, Garo Hills, Bubully S Marak, delivered the welcome address while the Tourist Officer, West Garo Hills, Ava Shereen Sangma, proposed the vote of thanks.