By Our Reporter
SHILLONG: There has been a steady increase in tourist inflow in Meghalaya with as many as 6, 72,307 tourists (both domestic and foreign) visiting the State in 2011.
A total of 6, 56,933 tourists had visited the State in 2010.
According to data received from the State Tourism department, the number of domestic tourists visiting the State in 2011 stood at 6, 67,504 while the number of foreign tourists was 4803.
Meghalaya Tourist Development Forum (MTDF) Chairman, Robert G Lyngdoh, on Sunday said that the number is quite impressive but feared that tourist inflow would significantly decrease if the Inner Line Permit (ILP) is implemented in the state, as is being demanded by certain organisations in the State.
“We should not be isolated in our thinking and instead of imposing shackles we should try to break it,” Lyngdoh said, adding, “ILP will not only bring down the flow of tourists in the State but will also create a sense of fear among visitors about the State.”
Citing the contrasting case of China and North Korea, Lyngdoh said China’s economy has grown tremendously after they opened their doors to the outside world while North Korea lacks a strong economy because of its isolation.
The MTDF Chairman informed that they are planning to come up with more tourist circuits in the State with the idea of making the tourists extend their stay in Meghalaya.
Asked about the plans, he said that there would be initiative to encourage community participation for overall promotion of tourism in the State.
“Now eco camps are also coming up in the State which would further increase tourists flow in the State,” he said.
Meanwhile, observers have pointed out to the shortage of accommodation in the State which they see as a major obstacle to increasing tourist flow in the State.
Visitors to the State have difficulty in finding suitable accommodation since most of the hotels in the city are packed to their capacity during the peak season, they reasoned.
Another problem that ails the tourist sector in the State is the lack of promotion by way of advertisements.
Sources from the State Tourism department have stated that the State Government had, a few years back, advertised about Meghalaya in some national news channels but the idea was cut short due to fund constraints.
The neighbouring state of Assam, on the other hand, has encouraged advertisement of their tourism sectors in leading national channels in a big way.