It is no hidden fact, that Meghalaya depends on tourism for its vast economic growth, and in summers, it’s the actual hub for tourists. Lush green valleys, gushing waterfalls, misty mountains, and crystal-clear rivers adorn the beautiful state and attract more than a thousand travellers every year.
But, gone are those days when we used to make a spontaneous plan, pack our bags and leave. This is 2020 and our life is different now. The streets are no more bustling with tourists, hotels and resorts have zero bookings and tourist sites are desolate with no new faces. It is the first time in so many years that Meghalaya has seen such a drop in footfall of tourists. Sigh!
Looking at the positive side, places are gradually opening, and travel looks slightly possible in some parts of India. But, given the current situation arising around COVID-19, all tourist spots in Meghalaya are closed and tourists from other states are advised not to make any travel plans to Meghalaya for now.
The state government has finally decided to re-open three tourist spots that remained shut due to lockdown since past few months – Wards Lake and Elephant Falls in East Khasi Hills and Nehru Park at Umiam, Ri-Bhoi district. However, this decision will cater only to the local tourists. Strict protocols and guidelines are said to be undertaken while allowing visitors an entry to these spots. There are a few more measures yet to be implemented by the state government to finally resume travelling in the state.
The state government has formed a task force to study the challenges faced by tourism sector during coronavirus situation. As a measure to boost the ailing industry, chief minister Sangma recently proposed to develop a ‘Covid-19 resilient model’ to sustain the tourism industry.
COVID Guidelines that need to be followed by the state and the tourists:
- Every tourist department must notify the carrying capacity i.e. the maximum number of visitors that it can accommodate while achieving the measures of social distancing at the same time. Once notified, the destination shall not exceed the carrying capacity at any point.
- Online ticketing and pre-booking to be carried out to avoid crowding at the counters.
- All tourist destination always staffs to wear face masks and gloves while attending the tourists. Social distancing to be strictly followed.
- Hand sanitizer to be made available at all entry points, ticketing counters and tourist destinations.
- Disposal of waste by tourists will not be allowed at tourist spots. They should dispose the waste at the designated areas or carry back the waste to be disposed later.
- No tourist will be allowed to enter any destination if they are not wearing face masks.
- All tourists including the drivers to be screened by thermal scanner at entry points.
- All visitors to provide basic personal information when visiting the destination. This record must be maintained by the management of the tourist destination. This will be done to ensure contact tracing related activity if required.
- The management of the tourist destination to designate a containment room or an isolation area for tourists or staff with potential COVID-19 symptoms.
- Seating/lounging areas in public places and restaurants to be rearranged keeping in mind the physical distancing norms.
COVID Precautions to be taken while travelling:
- First and foremost, wash your hands regularly. This is undoubtedly the most important thing that you can do to minimise your chances of contracting the Coronavirus disease. Make sure that it’s not just a quick rinse with soap and water. You need to wash your hands for at least twenty to thirty seconds whenever you get a chance, especially after accessing public spaces or if you have taken a mode of public transport.
- Always keep a hand sanitizer gel with you. In case you don’t get access to soap and water.
- Stock up your inventory. Buy disposable tissues, alcohol-based sanitizers, and gloves.
- Wear a mask and make sure to change it every 10 hours while travelling. Carry along enough masks to help yourself and others in your surroundings.
- Carry ample drinking water with you and re-fill at hygienic places only (do not forget to wear those gloves!).
- Do not forget to carry handy detergent sachets and bottles of disinfectants, since it is of utmost importance to stay clean and discourage the breeding of germs. Keep washable sandals and slippers with you wherever you can, because Covid-19 thrives on surfaces and regular cleaning is the only cure.
- Go digital! Digital payments are the key to minimizing physical contact between buyers and sellers. Download a few apps with quick keyboard taps, transfer the necessary amount of money from your bank account and voila, you can now buy souvenirs while maintaining minimal contact with the seller.
- Crowds are the worst place to be during the coronavirus outbreak. If you’re travelling to a place with many Coronavirus cases, stay away from any place with a lot of people.
- If you develop the symptoms of the COVID-19, wear a mask so that you don’t further spread the virus and infect other people. Isolate yourself and seek medical help immediately.
We know these are difficult times especially for the travellers. However, if we all take necessary precautions and work together then we can ensure the safety of our fellow travellers and help flatten the curve.
We have resumed out group trips and have some amazing destinations for you. Please check out website for the details!