The Indigenous Agro Tourism Cooperative Society (IATCS)was formed in 2013 in Kongthong, a village 56 kilometers from Shillong that is best known as the ‘Whistling’ or ‘Singing’ village. Led by Rothel Khongsit along with a handful of youths, the society works to promote agro-tourism as a means of livelihood, and to put their village on the tourism map of the state. The society is one of a number of tourism societies that are gaining popularity in the state thanks to the increasing tourist footfall over the last decade and a high potential tourism sector that is still in its nascent stages. This spurt in numbers has created employment opportunities for many people, particularly the youth of the state right from basic livelihood for sustenance to lucrative business opportunities. IATCS too has been able to provide employment for 15 youth who were otherwise school or college dropouts, with agriculture as their only alternative for earning a living.

Personalised experience as a service

The society adopted best practices from popular trends in agro-tourism and offers personalised experiences for tourists, with the ‘whistling village’ being the central and unique theme of the experience. Visitors get to immerse in the local culture, the way of life of the people, the scenic natural surroundings and the unique whistling practices seen only in this part of the country.

Every person in Kongthong has a tune as a name, composed by their mother. The Indigenous Agro Tourism Cooperative Society uses this as the unique selling point to attract tourists from various parts of the country and abroad to the village.

Visitors to Kongthong are offered the following experiences:

  1. A unique cultural traditions of each person having a tune as a name
  2. Accommodation in traditional bamboo huts
  3. Trekking through scenic terrain
  4. Visit to a living root bridge & surrounding waterfalls
  5. Camping experience
  6. Local delicacies
  7. Immersion in the village life

Revenue sources

The key source of income is the accommodation. The society charges INR 2,000 per night for the cottages, Rs 500 for tents and INR 200-250 for lunch/ dinner.
The income earned is divided into two parts, one part is used for paying the group and the employees while the other is kept in the society’s fund to be used
for maintenance and future expansion. Currently, the society is working on expanding the number of accommodation.


The society has divided itself into 5 smaller working groups. Tasks are assigned to each group on a rotation basis and the groups are paid on a daily basis. This ensures that all members get an equal opportunity to earn.

Notable achievements

With a share capital from the Department of Cooperative Society, the society was able to build the ‘Kongthong Traveller’s Nest’ cottages. These cottages are made using bamboo as traditional huts for accommodations.
Secondly, to remove language barriers and help tourists truly enjoy the immersion, several youths were sent for English language training and hospitality training to the capital city of Shillong.
The society also helps arrange for demonstrations of the unique tunes given to
community members. Local produce such as seasonal fruits, wild peppers, broomsticks, and honey that have been properly packed are made available for visitors.
Today, the Cooperative Society has 40 members and employs 3 full-time employees to manage routine work such as housekeeping, gardening, and plumbing.

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