The Tour Operators’ Association of Meghalaya (TOAM) representing a substantial number of tourism stakeholders in Meghalaya has said that recurrent law and order situation in the State has brought uncertainty to the tourism sector and shown the State in bad light.
While strongly condemning the recent Assam police firing at Mukroh which has led to the loss of innocent lives, TOAM said that it understood that the repercussions of this incident has led to strong emotions being felt by all communities and acknowledge these feelings.
“Yet at the same time we humbly appeal to all residents of our beautiful State to maintain peace and tranquility,” it said
TOAM also said that the stakeholders of tourism in Meghalaya, through years of concentrated efforts have built on the tourism scene in the State which has led to the uplift in the livelihood of many people who would have otherwise been in abject poverty.
“Tourism in the State is a seasonal activity with a peak period that lasts for only six to seven months in a year with the majority of all tourism activities concentrated in the rural areas of the State. Two years of Covid had greatly affected the lives of many who depend on the tourist trade, and many were elated when restrictions were lifted and life crept back to normal towards the end of 2021. This gradual growth however was compounded by persistent challenges in the form of agitations from various NGOs and pressure groups from within our own State, but our own people,” TOAM said.
It also said that to express their fundamental right to express their resentment to certain limitations and problems on the part of governance in the State, the pressure groups resort to violence and hostility to others, which at times are guests and visitors to the State.
“These incidents show our State in a bad light where the very act of democracy is construed into a hostile act. The knock on effects of these incidents has led to a major loss of revenue to those from within our own community who depend on the income generated from tourist activities,” TOAM said.
“It also leads to the discouragement of otherwise enterprising youths from setting up tourism businesses as the risks involved can be too high. The association would like to express their solidarity in positive changes for the State but that the movement towards change should not be at the cost of our State being labeled a rogue State, condoning violence and disruption to normal life, as the only means towards an end,” it added.
TOAM also appealed to all organisations who themselves have united for a cause, to work along the principles of harmony, fellowship, empathy and togetherness towards the betterment of the State.