from the tourism ministry and state governments from across India have been
attending tourism festivals across the globe, in an attempt to promote tourism
to their respective states. Chief Minister Mukul Sangma of Meghalaya, who
attended the India-Switzerland tourism festival in August; said that a proposal
had been submitted to make Shillong the venue for the next India-Switzerland
tourism meet to be held in 2012.
presented the tourism possibilities of Meghalaya at a workshop in Switzerland and
this seems to have favorably impressed Swiss officials. They were struck by the
similarities between the landscape of Meghalaya and their own country.
Initiative for Shillong
“I told the
people there that Meghalaya is equally beautiful as Switzerland, since the
hills and the gorges are similar and I urged them to visit the state and the
rest of the Northeast,” Sangma said.
increase in the number of Indian tourists to Switzerland, officials from both
countries are exploring the possibilities to promote more regions of their
respective countries for tourism. The Northeastern region of India has
unexploited potential, and Sangma’s initiative might result in attracting more
tourists to the state.
expressed an interest in initiating interaction with neighboring counties like
Bangladesh, Bhutan and Thailand. He said that the main need was to improve
infrastructure in the state to make tourism more viable.
in Local Infrastructure
Meghalaya had only one airport, The Umroi Airport, 35 km from Shillong. This airport
connects Shillong to other cities in Eastern India like Kolkata, Silchar and Aizawl.
In 2008, President Pratibha Patil formally opened the Baljek Airport, along the
West Garo Hills.
Hills is a place of great natural beauty that regularly attracts tourists to
Meghalaya. This airport, which cost Rs.12.52 crore to build, was much delayed
between its planning and execution stages, but when it was at last thrown open
to the public, there was general public interest and many people gathered to
witness the landing of the first flight, a Domlier 19-seater.
Umroi and Baljek airports are capable of handling only small aircraft, but they
have started providing flight connectivity to the state, a commendable step. There
are plans to expand the Umroi airport and Baljek airport to enable more flights
to reach the state and there is also a plan for an 18-seater aircraft to
regularly service this route.
proposal for Shillong to host the next Switzerland-India tourist meet is
accepted, it might provide the necessary impetus to put all these plans into
action and make Meghalaya a favored destination among international and
principle, the suggestion to hold the next meet was agreed on by officials of
both the countries, present on the occasion,” Sangma said. Does this imply that
only the official word is pending?
developments over the next few months can answer this question.