Tourism Takes A Hit After Violence In Shillong

Violence broke out on Thursday after local tribals and Punjabi residents clashed in the city's Punjabi Line area after a bus handyman was allegedly beaten up by a group of people.

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Tourism Takes A Hit After Violence In Shillong

The Army has been called into Shillong after fresh violence broke out. (File)


Shillong:  Tourists visiting this picturesque hill station are at the receiving end as curfew remains in force in the entire city and parts of it are virtually under siege due to continuing clashes between two groups since Thursday.

A number of hotels in Shillong told PTI that there were anxious queries from tourists and last minute cancellations of rooms due to fear of a breakdown of the law-and-order situation.

Violence broke out on Thursday after local tribals and Punjabi residents clashed in the city's Punjabi Line area after a bus handyman was allegedly beaten up by a group of people.

The Army conducted a flag march today and is scheduled to conduct another again at 10 pm.

"We have received a lot of queries from guests on the current situation in the state capital. There have been cancellations of advanced bookings at our hotels in the last 72 hours," a manager at Hotel Centre Point told PTI.

She said the hotel had witnessed record reservations and bookings over the past few years during the summer break and hoped that the situation returned to normalcy soon.

A guesthouse operator at Sohra (erstwhile Cherrapunji) said if the situation in Shillong did not improve soon, the money he had invested in the guesthouse would not give him any returns.

At both Shillong and Sohra, tourists are stuck because of the curfew and out of fear of attacks. The exact number of tourists stranded could not be ascertained, a senior district official said, adding that the authorities were doing their best to ensure that everyone was safe.

The taxis ferrying tourists from Guwahati have indefinitely suspended operations from today, following alleged attacks on them since the violence erupted last week.

The tourist taxi drivers' associations here, however, have decided to continue to ferry the tourists visiting the hill state till the Assam border to ensure that none of them was stranded.

"We have decided to continue to ferry passengers to Khanapara at the Assam border to ensure that no one is stranded," Jerry Khyriem, the president of one of the associations, told PTI.

He added that since vehicles with Meghalaya registration numbers were forced out of the stands in Guwahati, no vehicle from Assam will also be allowed to enter Shillong.

Tata Sumo taxis from Assam were stopped at Mawiong, on the outskirts of the city, and if those vehicles did not ferry passengers to and from here, the tourist taxis of Shillong would do so, Khyriem said.

Shillong Hoteliers' Association president Kishen Tribrewalla had earlier said the budding tourism industry here was witnessing a golden era and that the current skirmishes would affect it.

According to tourism department statistics, the number of tourists to the north-eastern state had crossed the 10-lakh mark last year.

A record number of 10,02,907 tourists had visited Meghalaya in 2017, which was not far behind the 14.25 lakh tourists Sikkim had received in the same period, a senior tourism department official told PTI.

The number of domestic visitors was 9,90,856 while that of foreign tourists was 12,051, he said. There was an increase of about two lakh tourists last year, compared to 2016.

In 2000, the number of tourists visiting the state was only 1,72,256, according to the statistics.

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