Tourists irked by MTDC’s irregular bus service, lack of marketing

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SHILLONG, Feb 10: The Meghalaya Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) is running several tour packages to different locations in Khasi and Jaintia Hills region of the state but they are not that popular for want of footfalls and marketing. These bus packages ply only if there is a minimum of 15 bookings in each trip, otherwise not. In such a situation, those tourists who want to use the MTDC bus service are unable to utilize these bus trips for want of requisite travelers.

As a result, tourists have to depend on smaller vehicles at higher prices.

While the MTDC personnel manning the tourist counter opposite MTC at Jail Road in Police Bazar area of the city claim that they cannot do much if the requisite number of bookings aren’t there, tourists and locals expressed their surprise over the matter. They are of the opinion that government run tourist services are most sought after everywhere in the country and there is definitely something wrong with the same here. They reason that improper marketing is one of the major reasons why the MTDC run tourist bus services could not run full everyday despite the fact that tourist flows into Meghalaya throughout the year.

Few such tourists, who tried booking at the MTDC counter here, observed that they cannot understand the reason behind lesser footfall at the counter when Meghalaya is known for its tourist destinations since, given the tourist flow, MTDC with proper marketing can run more buses. The observations of these tourists also indicate what the state government and the MTDC bosses could not see the solution to the ailing corporation.

Personnel from the MTDC counter also reasons that tourists desire to travel in smaller vehicles is also contributing to the lesser bookings in buses whereas local tourists alleges that the personnel are to be blamed for this since they are the very one who lures and influences tourists to opt for smaller vehicles.

“I have seen them persuading some tourists to take smaller vehicles reasoning that they will show them more tourist spots than the buses,” said this resident from the city who did not want to be identified. Seconding him another such resident, who had a similar experience at the MTDC counter at Jail Road said, “The MTDC personnel themselves are responsible for bringing down the corporation since they have tie-ups with other tourist operators – who keeps their palms greasy.”

Lack of private run tourist buses is also adding to the woes of the tourists here. Tourists observed that private tourist bus operators are not seen in Meghalaya as seen in other tourist circuits in the country.

One such tourist, Amit Kumar Mullick from West Bengal, observed that such bus services are not only “economical” and “timely” but also “comfortable”. These tourists said that MTDC should have tie-ups with hotels and guesthouses to increase their footfalls “instead of waiting for walk-in tourists” while pointing that private tour operators have tie-up among themselves in other states.

V Mahapatra from Odisha traveling with his family here said that in his state all tourists have to assemble at a place, whether in Puri or Bhubaneswar, earmarked by the state government every morning. “From there, the tourists are further segregated as per destinations, such as, Chilika Lake, Konark sightseeing and others,” he said while adding that the same can be started here in routes like Mawlynnong – Dawki, Cherrapunjee, Mawsynram, Nartiang and others.