An actual picture of Meghalaya's Tourism
As per the Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism and Hospitality (FAITH) dated 21st December, the industry has suffered a loss that ranges between Rs.10 lakh crore to Rs.15 lakh crore, as reported by Livemint.
Since I had the opportunity of working for Travel-based clients such as Expedia & Carlson Wagonlit Travel with Intelenet Global Services between 2017-20, the management that has been in the travel industry for more than a decade, has confirmed that it would take at least five years for the travel industry to recover. Expedia Travel is B2C travel portal and CWT is a B2B travel agency that deals with corporate clients majorly in MICE (Meeting, Incentive, Conferences & Exhibition) domain and other business trips.
For Northeast India to lead the country’s tourism revival, is purely a myth.
When travellers are so fond of foreign vacation such as Paris & Milan, I wonder how would Northeast India such as Meghalaya crippled by ILP agitation & entry-exit point saga, create an environment for tourists to come and spend their holiday? The COVID screening procedures could have been more simple within just a single click rather than standing in a queue waiting for one’s test to be done.
From Meghalaya’s perspective, there is hardly any business in tourism post-pandemic. Thanks to the community-oriented culture in which our citizens are not sleeping with an empty stomach. Hotels in Meghalaya are functioning with 50% staffing and less than 50% occupancy.
These are the following repercussions that every tourism entrepreneur of Meghalaya would face:-
1. The value of land or real estate in Shillong and other areas would go down eventually for the next 7 to 8 years.
2. Tourism entrepreneurs are forced to shut down their operation, in other words, the only option is to liquidate their assets by selling off their land or real estate investment, in order to get their loan paid off.
3. Real estate investors would have no choice but to sell off their investment at a throw-away price.
4. With the paralysis of the tourism industry, Meghalaya youth would focus on investing more on Healthcare education and Computer technology learning because they have witnessed the impact of COVID on their booming tourism business, giving vent to brain-drain as there is hardly any supportive infrastructure and mechanism by the state besides the Rs.1 lakh cash grant by North-Eastern Council (NEC) and cash award by Chief Minister’s Entrepreneurship Challenge program.
If we still have bullish Tourism entrepreneurs who would like to take a plunge in such a challenging situation, here are few of the suggestions:-
1. A good number of small Guesthouses in Shillong or Homestay are running at a monthly lease of Rs.50,000 monthly, if one can bargain a lease of Rs.20,000 monthly for the next five years, this would be a good choice rather than investing money in buying a house or land for tourism activity.
2. Demographic advertisement and branding of your business! Since I’m familiar with Delhi residents, using Facebook and Instagram in targeting HNI residents of Vasant Kunj, East Patel Nagar, Model Town, Gujranwala, New Friends Colony, Defense Colony, Sarita Vihar and other places around Delhi.
3. Last but not least, exceptional customer service. This is the most important thing in leaving a good impression before your travellers. Your service might be a bit expensive but never compromise on quality. Be a tour guide for them, walk with them and assist them in whatever way you can but just don’t forget to give them a call-back after they depart from Guwahati.
Don’t forget that normalcy in Meghalaya tourism would take another 7 to 8 years and it would be too early to celebrate if you have achieved your break-even in just a couple of years because business travel would take at least 5 years for recovery post-pandemic.