Tourism Minister Paul Lyngdoh today defended the expenditure incurred by the state to support recent music festivals, saying that they have helped in increasing the flow of tourists to Meghalaya.
“When you plant a seed, you will not see the fruits immediately. It requires time, nourishment and care,” he said.
The flagship Cherry Blossom Festival saw the state government shell out Rs 1.95 crore in funding, with the balance made up by the organisers through tickets and sponsors. This past week there was also the Me’gong festival in Garo Hills and prior to this was the smaller Shillong Literary Festival.
The amount spent on supporting the Cherry Blossom Festival pales in comparison to the Nagaland government’s investment of Rs 5 crore in the Hornbill Festival, the minister said.
Meghalaya is being recognised nationally as a tourist destination and these festivals have resonated well in the rest of the country and that is leading to gains for the state’s hospitality sector, he claimed.
On the accusation that the government spends lavishly on festivals when basic amenities in the state like roads and water supply are found wanting, Lyngdoh said that there are allocations for different departments and the Tourism Department has not overstepped its allocation.
“If the roads and water supply are in bad shape, it does not mean that the Tourism Department stops working and waits for roads to get better,” he said, adding that neither is the department borrowing funds from the Home, Health or other departments.