By Aafaque Hussain
SHILLONG: Cherrapunjee, may be a brand name for the State in so far as tourism promotion is concerned but the State Tourism department is yet to cover a long distance with regards to infrastructure development to make Cherrapunjee a sought after destination across the international tourism circuit.
If one goes by the words of the tourists who visit the area, the place has tremendous potentialities but lack of infrastructure is a major obstacle which restricts tourist movement to the once rainiest place in the world.
A tourist couple who visited Sohra on Monday, while talking to this scribe, said, “The place is beautiful but it lacks good hotels and lodges which would have had attracted many more tourists than the number visiting presently.”
Another tourist from West Bengal, while appreciating the picturesque sceneries in and around Sohra, said, “Food is also a problem here as I being an Indian tourist miss the traditional Indian food and a comfortable stay in this beautiful place.”
Sub Divisional Officer (SDO), Sohra, James Suchiang, was of the opinion that every day around 2000 to 2500 tourists visit Sohra and the number would only increase in the coming years.
“This place has a brand name and irrespective of lack of infrastructure hundreds of tourists visit this place,” Suchiang added while talking to this scribe.
“The confidence of the people needs to be boosted to further promote the tourism sector here,” Suchiang added.
The State Government, had, earlier mooted introduction of a 1.5-km cable car system in Sohra at an estimated cost of Rs 12 crore.
The project, which was expected to give a boost to the tourism scenario, however, has not yet seen the light of the day.
The holdup, according to official sources, is attributed to the delay in identification of the site for laying the cable car system.
“The project has to be examined carefully and views of the stakeholders including Rangbah Shnongs must be taken before going ahead with the construction,” Suchaing said, while maintaining that there were several other grey areas where things needed improvement.
The official also sounded confident that a number of good hotels are coming up in Sohra and once these hotels start operating, they would definitely add to the tourist flow into Cherrapunjee.
The State Government, had, a few years back, come up with the ‘bed and breakfast’ scheme for tourists but the initiative failed to generate any impact in the area.
However, the Government official believed that fresh attempts could be made to implement the ‘bed and breakfast’ scheme in Sohra by involving the local residents. Meanwhile, J Rangad Phanbuh, owner of Sai-Mi-Ka Resort in Sohra, while talking to this scribe mentioned that the State Government should be more proactive if it wanted to maintain or improve tourist flow into Sohra.
“The Government needs to do a lot as there are only four or five resorts in Sohra,” she said, while stating that tourist flow this year has been better than the previous years.