Monday, April 15, 2024

Pandemic hits tourism industry in WKH


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NONGSTOIN, Nov 15: Tourism, a booming business in West Khasi Hills with 70 per cent of the population in the district depending on it for their living has been badly affected with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic this year.
Tourism in West Khasi Hills was in its initial stage when the pandemic hit the world and the rapid spread of the virus ultimately impacted the growing industry in the district of Meghalaya.
West Khasi Hills is home to beautiful tourist spots like Nongkhnum, Mawphanlur with various activities which include boating, kayaking, rock climbing, angling, trekking etc set up to attract tourist.
With resorts, guest houses coming up to ease tourists not only from the state but for bag packers from around the world, the pandemic has hit the growing industry hard.
Even before the state government’s intervention to improve and promote tourism business in West Khasi Hills, the people of the district have already initiated and open up their own ideas to attract tourists from other parts of the world.
However, sadly the rapid spread of the virus has hit the growing business in West Khasi Hills compelling them to look for other source of income to feed their families.
Bony Lyngdoh, secretary of Mawphanlur Integrated Village Cooperative Society, told The Shillong Times that before the pandemic started, the group earned from Rs 5 to 6 lakhs from resorts and other activities in a year.
‘After the pandemic hit, we have to look for other alternative work for a living’, he said, adding that some of us have taken up agriculture or work in stone quarries.
This year the society has run at a great loss since they have to pay the share to the state government, electricity bill and honorarium to the staff.
A meeting was convene between the village authority, health workers and the members of the society and have passed a resolution to start opening tourism in Mawphanlur ensuring strict compliance with COVID protocols issued by the health department, Lyngdoh informed.
But there is no decision from the district administration till date, he added.
With restrictions, the flow of tourist has reduced to zero and if continued the impact will be devastating, Lyngdoh told The Shillong Times.
Apart from Mawphanlur,  there are other guest houses in Nongstoin where some of them are still close while some are open but with strict protocols in place.
“We have started to run a guest house for two years now and we have earned a lot from the business since the people from outside the state have started to visit tourist spots in West Khasi Hills”, K L Nongrum told The Shillong Times.
‘The pandemic not only affected the big investors, but small businesses like the roadside vendors have also suffered a great lost’.
70 percent of the population have adopted that tourism is their main source of income and many who have invested in the industry are at a lost. S Iawren who earned his living by running a boating business said that COVID-19 is one factor that caused him a great lost, while adding that he also suffered a lot from the flood that occurred earlier this year where out of five boats, four of them have been washed away by the flood and it is a tough time for him to start afresh.


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