Promoting Shillong and the neighbouring areas to tap their tourism potential was the key agenda when a group of professionals led by Tura MP Conrad K Sangma met Union minister of state (Independent charge) for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) Dr Jitendra Singh on January 17.
The minister was given an audio-visual presentation about the roadmap conceived for placing Shillong as a tourist attraction on the global platform and thereby promoting the entire region through a similar strategy. The presentation highlighted the various options and itineraries with focus on a 3-day holiday capsule incorporating cultural activities, meditation centres, music workshops, experience of food cuisines and trekking options.
Singh said that there is no second opinion about the fact that Shillong has not received the kind of tourism attention as it deserves. This, he said, is an irony considering the fact that Shillong is the original capital of Northeast right from the days of British Empire to the post-Independence era of undivided Assam. However, he said, the Central government has done its best to fast-track and make up for the undone initiatives of the past.
Singh also disclosed that, with a view to make the Shillong Airport fully functional with wider utility, the DoNER ministry has offered to fund the budget required for extension of the air-strip. At the same time, he said, the civil aviation ministry has also been approached to extend the facility at the airport and at the same time, increase the number of chopper/helicopter flights.
Some of the musical groups from Meghalaya can also be made part of the tourism bonanza capsule, he said.
The Union minister also referred to the practice of “home-stay” tourism which has caught up in a big way in Shillong and surrounding areas, and said, this is a practice which is worth emulating by other tourist destinations of the country as well.