SHILLONG, June 03: As was in the past, tourism has taken a new low here in the city in the aftermath of the altercation of Them metor (Sweeper’s Lane) incident. Hoteliers from the city’s commercial hub are experiencing a sudden drop in tourist flow and those who were in the city, till the other day, have cut their stay short given the rising violence. Although no tourists have been targeted, so far, however hotels and guesthouses are wary over the trend since everything was fine, of late. Tourists holidaying here are dampened by the violence on the street which is forcing them to leave the city and traders down their shutters.
Tourists had a tough time on Friday last, hunting for food and conveyance, when the commercial hub along with Laitumkhrah, Greater Laban and other localities, on precautionary ground, shut their businesses by early evening. The curfew type condition created unwarranted commotion in their minds while some managed to get conveyance to go out of the city, thereafter.
A tourist from Lucknow, Himesh Kumar, said that all was fine when he inquired but everything changed by the time he and his family reached here. Similarly, another tourist from Orissa had to cut his trip short since his family and elderly parents are feeling uneasy in the present atmosphere of crisis.
Guesthouses and hoteliers, informed, requested anonymity, that the unwarranted situation has taken a toll on their trade and it will take more time to heal. They said that they are receiving cancellations more than booking inquiries in the aftermath of the Sweeper’s Lane incident while there are some who are dealing with inquiries about the incident because their clients visit depends upon the prevailing condition in the state. The intense violence has hit the popular tourist destinations leading to concerns about the health of this major tourist destination. But the violence swirling around the tourist hubs is affecting visitors and residents in different ways, and even with the increasing security, national and foreign travelers are thinking twice before taking their final call, to visit the state, informed hotels.
Violence in many of the localities of the city and elsewhere in the state are prompting tourist to be safer and chose alternative hill stations, such as, Darjeeling, Shimla, Ooty and others. Most of the incidents in the city have taken place in the suburbs around the commercial hub – where tourists frequent. Hoteliers informed that tourists are very smart, now, since they Google in everything and take their decisions. They are no longer dependent on anybody.
Meanwhile, it is learnt that Cherrapunjee, Dawki, Mawsynram and other tourist destinations, especially in East Khasi Hills, are experiencing drop in footfalls.
Also, the US Legal Director, Manwinder Singh of United Sikhs - which advocates for disenfranchised minority communities around the world - has urged the indigenous community in Shillong to refrain from persecuting the Sikhs and other minorities in the state.
The legal team of the International Civil and Human Rights Advocacy of the NGO has alerted its government partners in Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia and UK to reach a peaceful resolution to the alarming violence in Shillong. United Sikhs, which is also an affiliate of the United Nations, has also expressed concern about its inability to provide direct assistance to the affected community, as police have completely cordoned off the area and have reached out the local authorities to provide medical aid and security.