‘Low COVID-19 situation’ in NE can rekindle tourism: Meghalaya CM

Shillong, Oct 16: Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma on Friday requested Union Tourism minister Prahlad Singh Patel to enhance domestic tourism and in the course of his address pointed out that the relatively “low COVID-19 situation” in the North East could rekindle tourism in the region.
“Twenty two million outbound tourists from India, who usually look for high end tourism destinations outside, can take advantage of the low Covid situation in the Northeast and explore the scenic and natural beauty of the region,” Sangma pointed out in a virtual meeting with Patel.
The chief minister also informed Patel on several initiatives and intervention taken by the State to promote tourism and measures being adopted for the safety of tourists as the State gears up to re-open for tourism.
He also said that Meghalaya has prepared itself to cater to tourists and has also inked a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with a private airline company to operationalize flights from New Delhi to Shillong, which would further boost tourism.
“Direct flights from Delhi to Shillong and from Shillong to other State capitals in the Northeast will open up a huge tourism market”, said the chief minister expressed optimism.
Addressing a virtual World Tourism Day conclave organized by the Union Ministry for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) on the theme ‘Emerging Delightful Destinations’ last month, he had observed that amid the pandemic situation, there was hope for the tourism industry in the scenic North Eastern Region of the country, if the opportunity was realized and utilized.
“Amidst the disruption caused by the pandemic, there is also an opportunity for Meghalaya and Northeast. India has almost 26 million outbound tourists. A large section of these will look for exotic destinations within the country. Meghalaya is one such exotic destination that will be ready to welcome a big section of these high-value tourists,” he had said, even as he mentioned that due to Covid-19 pandemic, there are travel restrictions globally and within India which has created an opportunity for the region.
Earlier in June this year, in keeping with the new normal of social distancing, the Chief Minister had inaugurated ‘isolated cottages’ called the Orchid Log Houses, overlooking the beautiful hills of Mawdiangdiang in the New Shillong Township, funded under Swadesh Darshan of the Union Ministry of Tourism.
“The idea is to really work in future in terms of how we need to adapt to tourism when it comes to the COVID-19 situation,” he had said.
“Therefore, it is important that we have cottages like these which are more isolated in one way and at the same time we need to ensure that the standard of infrastructure goes up, the experience of tourist is better and at the same time we need to ensure that our people who are going to be hosting the tourists are trained,” Sangma emphasized. (UNI)