By Our Reporter
SHILLONG, Oct 31: Tourism Minister Paul Lyngdoh on Tuesday said the department is coming up with a bill to protect the fragile ecosystem of Meghalaya.
Stating that more than footfall, the state government’s emphasis is on high-value tourism, he said, “We would like to upscale the quality of visitors rather than the quantity of visitors.”
“We are also in the process of coming up with a bill to protect the state’s fragile ecosystem. To do that we would have to ensure that we promote high-end tourism and high-value tourism,” he told reporters after a consultative meeting with all the stakeholders from the Khasi-Jaintia Hills region.
“The spending power of an average tourist in Meghalaya is roughly around Rs 2,700 per day. We would like to scale it up to at least 5,000 a day,” he said.
“The focus of the bill is on protecting the areas. For instance, we have the living root bridges, monoliths, and caves. These are fragile and prone to damage if the footfall is not controlled and if visitors are irresponsible,” Lyngdoh said.
“We have come up with the idea to check this. We are at the stage of conceiving the bill to be introduced in the state Assembly,” he added.
He cited the example of about 200 people entering the Arwah cave in Sohra at the same time, creating chaos, noise pollution, and inconvenience to the locals. “People were pushing each other. This has to be regulated,” he asserted.
Lyngdoh said the aim of the consultative meeting was to engage all stakeholders in the tourism sector sustainably. “There were 102 participants from the Khasi-Jaintia Hills district. A separate meeting with the Garo Hills stakeholders will be held soon,” he said.
The challenges and drawbacks on the path to make Meghalaya a tourism brand were discussed at the meeting, he said. “Such consultations would be held from time to time,” he said.