Mawphlang NGO shows way to sustainable tourism

Society seeks govt support to expand reach across NE

GUWAHATI: As Meghalaya attempts to regain much of its “lost ground” in tourism, an NGO in Mawphlang is making a concerted effort to project, promote and protect nature despite limited funds.

The Mawphlang Sustainable Tourism Society, formed in 2009 with the objective of boosting tourism through social, economic and environmental sustainable activities, has battled the odds to showcase significant spots in and around Mawphlang in East Khasi Hills.

“Barring limited amounts from the Governor’s office and the East Khasi Hills district administration earlier this year, we are yet to get substantial support from the government. Even the money collected as toll fee is handed over to the office of Hima Mawphlang which is thereafter utilised in other development work,” Tambor Lyngdoh, president and founder of the Society, told The Shillong Times.

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The Society currently has 16 core members, including advisers. Among the main activities are creation of awareness on the importance of tourism and restoration of ecology, provision of home stays, sanitation and revival of traditional cuisine.

Besides, the Society highlights contemporary issues that youths and the general public confront in the field of tourism, provides training on various income generating activities and assists the state tourism department in organising festivals among others.

“We provide service and security to tourists, especially when they visit the sacred grove since it is a place vital for biodiversity restoration. The Society guides trekkers on the David Scott trail from Mawphlang to Ladmawphlang and vice versa,” Lyngdoh said.

Currently, there are 40 trained and registered guides to cater to tourists in the area.

“A lot of energy has been spent over the years to identify interested families to arrange home-stays for tourists and researchers who prefer to stay overnight or for a particular period. Currently, we have about six families who provide such a service,” he said.

The Society has long-term plans to expand its reach across Meghalaya and Northeast

As of now there are about 25 villages in Mawphlang Lyngdohship and about 50 small pockets of potential tourist spots around Mawphlang. All these villages will be taken top priority by directly involving them in tourism activities,” he said.

Among the areas of focus are Mawbeh, Pyrda, Jathang, Mawtep, Mawbri, Mawmihthied and Ladmawphlang villages along the David Scott Trail connecting Mawphlang and Sohra.

“Through the trail, trekkers come across the Resting Place (Kor Shongthait), Camila Tomb, Suspension Hanging Bridge, Mawnguid briew, rivulets, rivers, waterfalls and landscapes. Then there is the Jathang View Point near Mawsynram, the Umkawang Falls near Wah Rina,  Synrang Khla Cave at Didan and a trekking route to Mawpuri at Umsawmat village,” he said.

The Society also identifies camp sites and eco-resorts at Mawbeh, Jathang and Didan, thereby making the service custom-made, and more importantly, tourist friendly.

“We would like to have more homestays and also identify new tourist spots in and around Mawphlang. Road side amenities are also needed for which we need support from the government,” Lyngdoh said.

The flow of tourists has increased prominently since the Lasubon, festival organised by tourism department in 2011, Monolith Festival in 2013, Slow Food Festival in 2015 and the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May 2016 and the Princess of Thailand in the same year.

“The concept is sustainable eco tourism and care has to be taken in regard to the entry of tourists during the monsoon as there is a lot of pressure on soil and the roots of the trees,” he said.

Asked about any innovation planned, he said plans were afoot to enhance the reception system, the display of local artefacts and food culture, besides organising camps in and around the grove once a month, holding storytelling sessions besides cultural programmes. “A herbal healing strategy (part of health tourism) is also taking effect in Mawphlang,” Lyngdoh added.




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