On a historic occasion, Meghalaya’s first ever five-star hotel, the Vivanta Meghalaya, Shillong was inaugurated by the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Meghalaya, Shri. Conrad K. Sangma. The event was attended by cabinet Ministers, the Hon’ble member of Rajya Sabha from Meghalaya, the Chief Secretary, the Director General of Police, the Chairperson, MTDC, senior government officials, delegates from the media and members of the civil society.
The Chief Minister called this a truly momentous occasion in the history of Meghalaya. He highlighted that the work for the hotel had been going on since 1986 and could be completed only after a strong push was given by the current government. He congratulated and thanked all the stakeholders for completing the project despite the COVID-induced disruptions. With a built-up area of about 8,800 sq. m., the hotel has 101 rooms and other facilities including a speciality restaurant, coffee shops, bar, retail shops, and a banquet hall. It is owned by the Meghalaya Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) and has been leased out for a period of 33 years on a PPP mode to be operated by the IHCL. The Chief Minister also said that the Vivanta Meghalaya, Shillongalong with the upcoming hotel Courtyard by Marriott will give a huge boost to high-value tourism in the State. This model will be further replicated going forward to transform Meghalaya into the most preferred destination for ecotourism. Today we have handed over the hotel to IHCL and the hotel will soon be open for guests.
The Chief Minister reiterated his vision of transforming Meghalaya into the top 10 states within the next 10 years and said that tourism is at the core of realizing this vision. He said that the Government is developing tourism on a hub and spoke model wherein Sohra, Jowai, Shillong, Umiam and Tura will act as hubs and nearby rural tourist destinations will be developed as spokes. In line with this strategy, the Government has taken a number of initiatives to augment the accommodation infrastructure in the State. These include the construction of large resorts and tourism infrastructure in Sakaladuma in West Garo Hills, Shnongpdeng in West Jaintia Hills, Sohra in East Khasi Hills, Mawlyndep and Nongmahir in Ribhoi, Nongkhnum in West Khasi Hills, Thadlaskien in West Jaintia Hills and Pelgawari in South West Garo Hills. Tourism infrastructure and amenities at a cost of Rs. 5 -10 crores each, will also be set up in several villages.
To further augment the accommodation infrastructure, the ‘Homestay Scheme’ has been launched, wherein 2,500 accommodation units will be built over the next five years in convergence with the PMEGP. A subsidy of 35% is being given on loans of up to Rs. 10 lakh by the State government which is over and above the 35% subsidy being given by the Government of India under PMEGP. The residents stand to earn a monthly revenue of up to Rs. 50,000 by paying an EMI of just Rs. 5,000. The Government has received over 480 applications to date and has sanctioned Rs. 7.1 crores to build about 75 homestays.
In addition to accommodation infrastructure, the connectivity infrastructure is also being upgraded to decongest Shillong and provide connectivity to new destinations. A fleet of electric buses and luxury tourist vehicles will be introduced to add capacity to the transport sector. Further, the works for the iconic Shillong Peak Ropeway, being taken up at a cost of Rs. 140 crores, are also expected to commence by the end of this year. The Chief Minister also spoke about the ‘Meghalaya Grassroots Music Project (MGMP)’ as part of which regular musical performances are being organized in Shillong, Sohra, Tura and Jowai. Apart from providing livelihood opportunities to the artists and entrepreneurs, MGMP is also playing an important role in promoting the musical culture and heritage of the State and at the same time is also providing a unique experience for the tourists.
The State faces a shortage of high-quality rooms and the presence of five-star hotels in Shillong would allow the government to attract high-value tourists, host national and international music and sports events, and other seminars and conferences. The Chief Minister said that the Vivanta Meghalaya, Shillong would herald an era of luxury tourism in the State and will go a long way in fulfilling the aspirations of the residents of the State.