SHILLONG, Dec 24 - The Meghalaya government has made it mandatory for visitors to book accommodation for at least two nights in order to get an e-invite to visit the State.
The new rule will virtually block the entry of day-trippers into the hill State.
The visitors would now have to �mandatorily register on the Meghalaya Tourism App and generate an e-invite. The visitors would have to mention about booking of accommodation in the form.
The State tourism website mentioned that �it is mandatory to book stay for at least two nights (either in hotel, homestay or guest house) for the first two nights and declaration of the complete itinerary for the e-invite to be generated�.
If the visitor is staying as a guest of any family or friend in the State, then the individual will have to declare the full address and contact details of the family or friend.
Once the process is completed, the visitors will receive the e-invite which will have to be shown at the entry checkpoint along with a COVID-19 negative certificate.
�Yes, we are discouraging visitors who come in and leave. Visitors must have to stay for two nights at least after registration�There is no registration charge,� Cyril Diengdoh, Managing Director of State Tourism Department, told The Assam Tribune.
In recent years the number of day-trippers to the State, especially to East Khasi Hills district, has increased manifold.
It is not yet clear if this decision is a permanent one. The new rule came to light after the State government inaugurated the Facilitation Centre (FC) or entry-exit point at Umling in Ri-Bhoi district recently.
One of the reasons for the decision to not allow day-trippers into the State could be to reduce the traffic snarl on the National Highway and also in the State Capital, especially at the weekend.
The other reason could be to attract �high-end� tourists to the State, which the State government has been trying for many years. Many feel that a reduced footfall and increase in high-end tourists would not put stress on the environment of the State.
The FC would be letting in visitors only after checking their identity and other relevant documents. The FC would be screening not just the visitors but also local residents of the State returning from outside.
Diengdoh added that adequate counters have been put in place at the FC so that people are not inconvenienced. �Washrooms and a cafeteria are there at the FC for the visitors,� he informed. Although the FC is an initiative of the Tourism Department, the administration is under the Deputy Commissioner of the district.
Adequate security would be provided at the FC by the Home Department. Besides police personnel, officials from the anti-infiltration wing would also be posted at the FC, Diengdoh said.
Asked about visitors in transit through Meghalaya to other States like Barak Valley in Assam, Mizoram or Tripura, Diengdoh said such visitors would not be screened at the FC, but still their vehicles numbers and the number of occupants in the vehicle would be noted.
It is not clear as of now where the transit vehicles would be checked. Truckers too would not be screened at the FC, but the truck drivers and their helpers would also have to produce identity cards.
�The exit of these vehicles and the occupants would be checked at the exit points,� he informed. Diengdoh said the FC would be functioning as both the entry and exit points.