Meghalaya Unveils Ambitious Heritage Tourism Plan: Small Museum to Grace Old Assembly Building
Meghalaya, often hailed as the "Abode of the Clouds," beckons with its enchanting landscapes—rolling hills, meandering rivers, cascading waterfalls, lush forests, and a rich tapestry of diverse flora and fauna. This picturesque haven, adorned with a unique culture and tradition, stands poised for substantial growth in the realm of tourism.
Meghalaya is set to capitalize on its picturesque landscapes and rich cultural tapestry by venturing into heritage tourism. During International Tourism Mart, Chief Minister Conrad Sangma announced plans to open a small museum within a portion of the historic old Assembly building in Shillong, the capital city, showcasing the region's unique history.
Nicknamed the 'Scotland of the East,' Shillong boasts historical significance and pristine natural beauty. The new Assembly site, operational by September 2024, prompts the conversion of the old British-era structure into a museum. This building, a relic from undivided Assam, holds substantial historical value alongside other heritage sites such as the Raj Bhavan building and Rabindranath Tagore’s house.
During an interview with Safari Plus at the International Tourism Mart (ITM), Mr. Cyril VD Diengdoh, Tourism Dept. Govt. of Meghalaya and Mr. M R Synrem, (IAS), Joint Secretary (Tourism), Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India shared insights into various aspects of tourism and related developments in the state.
- Recognizing tourism's potential as a key economic driver, the Meghalaya government aims to foster responsible growth in the sector. Infrastructure development and facilitation of private investment are key aspects of the plan. The government also emphasizes sustainable tourism, aiming to create employment without compromising the environment and local culture.
- Encouraging eco-friendly practices, the initiative urges hotel operators to adopt 'go green' standards, including the use of renewable energy, reduced water and energy consumption, rainwater harvesting, waste reduction, and non-smoking areas. Meghalaya aims to provide a clean, healthy, and safe environment, specifically targeting women solo travelers.
- The state's abundant natural resources set the stage for adventure tourism, featuring activities like rock climbing, paragliding, zip-lining, mountain cycling, canoeing, and water skiing. Safety and quality will be paramount, aligning with international standards set by the Ministry of Tourism.
- Meghalaya's diverse wildlife, including the Balpakram National Park, Nokrek Biosphere Reserve, Siju Wildlife Sanctuary, and Nongkhyllem Wildlife Sanctuary, will be developed into tourism products. The Tourism Department will collaborate with the Forest Department for infrastructure improvement. Preservation of Sacred Groves is a priority for conservation efforts.
- As Meghalaya witnesses a surge in tourist arrivals, the demand for MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions) facilities has risen. The government plans to establish modern convention facilities at strategic locations.
- The state's oldest 18-hole golf course, the Shillong Golf Course, holds the potential to attract high-end tourists with improved air connectivity. The government plans to construct accommodations reflecting the traditional styles and decor of major tribes—the Khasi, Jaintia, and Garo.
- Rural tourism, seen as a responsible and sustainable product, will involve local participation, enabling visitors to immerse themselves in the state's unique culture and heritage.
Additionally, Meghalaya aims to promote Heritage Tourism by showcasing buildings, monuments, and churches associated with famous personalities and historical events in Shillong.
Meghalaya's comprehensive tourism strategy aims not only to boost the state's economy but also to showcase its rich heritage and natural beauty to a global audience.