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Monday, 29 June, 2020, 11 : 00 AM [IST]

Hotels in Shillong to reopen with restriction on tourists

According to the Shilong Times, all hotels across the state are set to reopen from July 1 even as entry of tourists is restricted. Reopening of the hospitality sector is the last in the series of measures the government has taken lately to ease the lockdown in the state.

Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong informed that the decision to reopen the hotels was taken after receiving inputs from deputy commissioners.

Tynsong said the state government would issue the protocols and SOPs to be followed by the hotels.

The government, however, made it clear that those hotels which had been requisitioned as designated quarantine centres would continue to remain so.
Earlier, the government had directed the DCs of 11 districts to hold consultations with all the stakeholders up to the village level on reopening of hotels and tourist spots.

The traditional heads of villages in Khasi and Jaintia Hills and Ri-Bhoi district have decided not to allow resumption of tourism activities or reopening of hotels, homestays and guest houses.

The decision was taken in an online meeting convened by the Meghalaya Rural Tourism Forum (MRTF) earlier this week.

A statement by the President of the MRTF, Alan West Kharkongor, said that the decision was taken in view of the spike in COVID-19 cases in the country and particularly in neighbouring Assam.

Besides, it was also decided not to allow travel by locals within the state for the purpose of tourism for the time being.

The villages which have decided not to allow tourism activities in their areas are Hima Mawphlang, Hima Sohra, Khliehshnong Sohra, Pdengshnong Sohra, Mawsmai-Nongthymmai Elaka, Saitsohpen Elaka, Dympep, Mawkdok, Laitryngew, Mawkma, Kutmadan, Tyrna and Nongriat under Sohra Sub-Division; Riwai, Mawlynnong and Umsyiem under Pynursla Sub-Division; Shnongpdeng, Kudengrim, Dawki and Darrang under West Jaintia Hills and Lawbah under East Khasi Hills.

On the other hand, villages like Mawkdok and Dympep are against resumption of tourism activities due to instances of abuse of the environment in the last few weeks which go against their effort to keep their localities green and clean.

Kharkongor said that only a few villages, including Mawphanlur in West Khasi Hills, Mawlyngbna in East Khasi Hills and Sohliya and Umbir in Ri-Bhoi district may allow local tourists after the government decides on the matter but with strict adherence to stipulated SOPs and protocols.

All the traditional heads agreed that mass tourism needs to be controlled and that proper policy should be put in place to take care of the environment.

“We have to find out ways and means to instil in people’s mind the importance of taking care of the environment while we benefit from it”, said Shembhalang Kharwanlang, headman of Khliehshnong Sohra.

They said that there should be a balance between economy and environment. Meanwhile, the Tour Operators Association of Meghalaya (TOAM), which also took part in the online meeting, is in favour of “surviving, reviving and thriving” the tourism scenario in the state.

The statement said that TOAM does not subscribe to the idea of opening the tourist spots to people from outside the state and would rather wait and watch for not less than three months.

The association is in favour of opening the sites for local tourists with strict adherence to SOPs which can help the economy of those stakeholders affected by the pandemic.

It has also called for reviewing the tourism policy of the state taking into consideration the change that is expected post COVID-19. (Source: Shillong Times)
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