Meghalaya unveils PRIME tourism vehicles to elevate high value tourism experience

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In line with its vision to position Meghalaya as a USD 10 Billion economy by 2030, the State Government of Meghalaya has taken a significant step towards fostering economic growth through tourism. Recognizing the rapid increase in tourist footfall and the immense potential of Meghalaya as a favored tourist destination, the government has identified tourism as a key sector driving the state’s economic development. The tourism industry in Meghalaya plays a vital role in providing livelihood opportunities for nearly 50,000 people and contributes approximately 4.1% to the state’s Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP). With multiplier effects on various sectors such as construction, transport, agriculture, food processing, handicrafts, and financial services, the tourism sector holds tremendous potential for inclusive growth and economic prosperity. Today, in the ceremonious launch, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Meghalaya, Shri Conrad K Sangma, unveiled PRIME tourism vehicles to elevate high value tourism experience in the State. The event was also graced by, Shri Paul Lyngdoh, Tourism Minister, Government of Meghalaya, Dr. Vijay Kumar D, IAS, Commissioner and Secretary, Tourism Department, Government of Meghalaya along with Smt. Renette C. Sohkhlet, Secretary, Tourism Department, Government of Meghalaya.

The program was launched, considering that high value tourists look for exclusive experience in terms of stay and prefer high quality mobility while travelling. To match the expectations of these high spending tourists, Meghalaya must offer luxury infrastructure including personalized luxury travel options. However, based on the market research and stakeholder discussion with the Tourist Operators and Tourism Department, Government of Meghalaya it was realized that apart from the existing fleet of taxis (mostly sedans) Meghalaya has very little options to offer to cater the travel needs of the high value tourists such as superior ride quality, spacious interiors, chauffer driven vehicles etc. To address the gap and thereby to promote high value tourism in an entrepreneurial mode, Tourism Department, Govt. of Meghalaya has launched a scheme, “PRIME Tourism Vehicle” for entrepreneurs, tour operators and tourism cooperative societies.

Meghalaya, blessed with nature’s bounty, boasts breathtaking landscapes, cascading waterfalls, deep gorges, diverse flora and fauna, and crystal-clear water bodies, making it a paradise for visitors. Alongside its natural beauty, Meghalaya also cherishes a rich cultural heritage, indigenous customs, and beautiful handicrafts. However, the development of infrastructure plays a crucial role in promoting tourism, considering the delicate nature of the state’s tourist sites.

To commemorate the launch of the PRIME Tourism Vehicles scheme, a flag-off ceremony was held today. Hon’ble Chief Minister of Meghalaya, Shri Conrad K Sangma, expressed his enthusiasm for the initiative, stating, “We are thrilled to launch the PRIME Tourism Vehicles scheme, a significant leap forward in elevating Meghalaya’s tourism potential. By offering luxurious travel options, well-trained drivers, and prioritizing safety, we aspire to curate unforgettable experiences for our esteemed visitors. This initiative not only drives economic growth of the state but also empowers entrepreneurs and skilled drivers, fostering the holistic development of Meghalaya.”

In line with the principles of sustainability, the Government of Meghalaya has adopted a holistic approach to tourism development. One such approach is high value – low volume tourism, which ensures that tourist footfall is in harmony with the carrying capacity of infrastructure, socio-cultural values, and natural endowment.

To cater to the expectations of high-spending tourists seeking exclusive experiences and luxury travel options, Meghalaya has launched the “PRIME Tourism Vehicle” scheme.

Shri Paul Lyngdoh, Tourism Minister, Government of Meghalaya, stated, “As we inaugurate the PRIME Tourism Vehicles scheme, we embark on a transformative journey to position Meghalaya as a premier tourist destination. With a focus on enhancing visitor experiences, providing top-notch services, and promoting sustainability, this initiative underscores our commitment to unlocking the true potential of our state’s tourism sector. Through the PRIME Tourism Vehicles scheme, we are not only creating livelihood opportunities but also paving the way for a prosperous future for our tourism industry and the people of Meghalaya.”

Through the scheme, government has provided 50% financial aid on on-road cost of the vehicle at an approximate investment of 6 crores. This financial aid includes 90% down payment support which has ensured that the beneficiary can get a luxury vehicle just with an initial payment of Rs. 1 lac as down payment. Additionally, 20% EMI support is also provided to alleviate operational cost. The scheme aims to enrich the travel experience of high-spending tourists, provide well-trained drivers doubling as guides, facilitate easy vehicle booking at government-approved rates, and create livelihood opportunities.
During the limited launch period of one month, the scheme received an overwhelming response, with over 600 applicants applying for the program. In the first phase, 47 beneficiaries were selected through a rigorous assessment process, ensuring their communication skills, knowledge of the tourism sector, and understanding of basic road safety rules as drivers. The Tourism Department conducted training sessions and assessments for all drivers to ensure their competence and prioritize passenger and driver safety. Prioritizing safety of the passengers and the drivers of the vehicles, the government has installed GPS devices on all the vehicles to locate any vehicle if any emergency is reported.

In addition to the PRIME Tourism Vehicle Scheme, the Tourism Department of Meghalaya has distributed life jackets, first aid boxes, and inflatables to tourism stakeholders across the state, prioritizing the safety of tourists visiting water bodies. The department has also organized in association with Tour Operators Association of Meghalaya, training workshops for boatmen on basic lifesaving skills and CPR in collaboration with the Tour Operators Association of Meghalaya for boatmen in Shnongpdeng, Sohra, Darrang, Dawki, Umsyiem, etc. The launch of the PRIME Tourism Vehicles scheme marks a significant milestone in Meghalaya’s journey towards becoming a sought-after tourist destination. The state government remains committed to promoting sustainable tourism, fostering economic growth, and creating unparalleled experiences for visitors.

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