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Guwahati being developed as a hub to provide improved connectivity to the North-eastern states: Dr. Mahesh Sharma
The 4th International Tourism Mart(ITM) will be held in Gangtok from 14th – 16th October, 2015. This was announced by the Minister of State for Culture (Independent Charge), Tourism (Independent Charge) and Civil Aviation, Dr. Mahesh Sharma at a press conference in New Delhi today. International buyers and media delegates from 27 countries are participating in this year’s ITM.
Addressing the mediapersons, Dr. Mahesh Sharma said that the ITM will showcase the rich tourism potential of the North East States. The Minister said that the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi gives utmost priority to the North-east and promoting tourism in the region has been the emphasis of the Ministry. It is due to these efforts that the number of Foreign Tourist Visits (FTVs) to North Eastern States during 2014 grew by 39.8% , revealing a significant improvement in the growth of 27.9% in FTVs registered during 2013 over 2012, the Minister explained.
Dr. Mahesh Sharma said that improving connectivity is the key to promoting tourism in the North-east for which the Government has taken new initiatives. One of the major steps in this direction is creating Guwahati as a hub to provide improved connectivity to the North-East. For this purpose, the Government has sanctioned funds to the tune of Rs 1200 crore for development of Guwahati Airport. Similarly, Guwahati has already started working as a heli-hub with the help of Pawan Hans services to the North-eastern states, which started working more than two months ago.
Dr Mahesh Sharma informed that Rs 484 crore have also been sanctioned for up gradation of Agartala Airport and Rs 90 crore for Tezu Airport (Arunachal Pradesh). The Ministry of Tourism is working on 3 projects in Majuli, Tawang & Kamakhya for promoting Tourism in North East States. Rs 250 crore have already been sanctioned for the projects under the Swadesh Darshan(North-east Circuit) and PRASAD schemes of the Ministry of Tourism.
Dr Mahesh Sharma said that we need to increase India's share in world tourism from 0.68 to 1 % by 2020 to realize the full potential of this sector. Tourism helps in women empowerment and youth employment. He reiterated the motto of the Ministry of Tourism ‘Cleanliness, Safety and Hospitality’. Dr. Mahesh Sharma also said that the facility of e-visas have been extended to 113 countries and the government will extend it to 150 countries by March next year.