"India has almost 26 million outbound tourists. A large section of these will look for exotic destinations within the country. Meghalaya is one such exotic destination," Sangma said
Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma on Sunday attended a virtual World Tourism Day conclave organised by the DoNER ministry.
The World Tourism Day conclave was themed on Emerging Delightful Destinations.
The Meghalaya CM spoke of the vital role tourism plays in leveraging the economy and enhancing livelihood.
The North Eastern Council, DoNER ministry organises the event annually in different parts of the country to promote and showcase the rich cultural heritage of the northeast to the rest of the country.
This year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was organised virtually, which was inaugurated by the Union Home Minister Amit Shah and DoNER minister Jitendra Singh.
The Meghalaya CM also spoke at length on this year's World Tourism Day - Tourism and Rural Development
He said the World Tourism Day theme blended well with the conclave's theme.
"It is a reminder to all of us about the vital role of tourism in developing and enhancing rural economies," he added.
He further said that Meghalaya has an immense tourism potential as the state is blessed with bountiful nature, forests, waterfalls, caves, wildlife, flora and fauna.
"Our cultural heritage and traditions are deeply rooted in nature and it is in rural Meghalaya that the best of our tourist destinations are located, be it in Sohra, Mawlynnong, Shnongpdeng or Nokrek," he added.
He further informed that in 2019 Meghalaya recorded 1.2 million tourist footfall and that the tourism sector played a pivotal role in providing direct and indirect employment to the local people.
"Meghalaya is one of the fastest-growing and travel destinations in Northeast," the CM added.
He remarked that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, tourism in Meghalaya has been badly hit.
"However, the government has prepared a roadmap to revamp the tourism sector of the state," he remarked.
“The Meghalaya government is conscious of the impact of COVID-19 on the growing tourism industry in the state," he said.
"Therefore, it is crucial to plan the reopening of tourism in Meghalaya so that it benefits all the tourism stakeholders involved, the residents of the state and the travellers and visitors alike," he added.
He further said that due to COVID-19 pandemic, there are travel restrictions globally and within India which has created an opportunity for Northeast.
"Amidst the disruption caused by the pandemic, there is also an opportunity for Meghalaya and Northeast," he said.
"India has almost 26 million outbound tourists. A large section of these will look for exotic destinations within the country," he said
"Meghalaya is one such exotic destination that will be ready to welcome a big section of these high-value tourists," he added.
He informed that the state government is committed to bringing in investment in the emerging tourism destinations by creating resorts and luxury tented accommodations which will revive the rural sector.
"We are also investing in upskilling the rural tourism stakeholders and we expect the mode of revenues from tourism to flow into the rural areas as we open up,", he stressed.
Talking about air connectivity, the CM informed that direct flights from Delhi to Shillong will start at the end of October 2020, which will further add to the growth of the tourism sector in the State.
He also expressed his optimism that direct flights to Shillong will also start soon from other cities like Mumbai and Hyderabad.
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