NEW DELHI, Sept 30 - In a move aimed at boosting connectivity, the Centre has decided to allocate Rs 1,200 crore to develop the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport (LGBI) as the hub of air operations.
Disclosing this at a curtain raising function on the Fourth International Tourism Mart at Gangtok scheduled to be held from October 14-16, Union Minister of State for Tourism and Civil Aviation, Dr Mahesh Sharma said that improving connectivity is the key to promoting tourism in the North East, for which the Government has taken a number of new initiatives.
One of the major steps is creating Guwahati as a hub to provide improved connectivity to the North East. The Government has sanctioned funds to the tune of Rs 1,200 crore for development of LGBI 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 has also been sanctioned for upgrading Agartala Airport and Rs 90 crore for Tezu Airport in Arunachal Pradesh. The Ministry of Tourism is working on three projects at Majuli, Kamakhya and Tawang for promoting tourism in the North Eastern States. At least Rs 250 crore has already been sanctioned for the projects under the Swadesh Darshan (North-east Circuit) and PRASAD schemes of the Ministry of Tourism.
The First, Second and Third International Tourism Mart was held at Guwahati, Tawang and Shillong respectively. The Fourth ITM is being organised by the Ministry of Tourism in association with the North Eastern States and West Bengal.
The Tourism Minister said that international buyers and media delegates from 27 countries and from different regions of the country will be participating in the Mart, Dr Sharma said and added that they would engage in business meetings with sellers from the North Eastern region and West Bengal. This will enable tourism product suppliers to reach out to international and domestic buyers and promote the region.
The Minister said post-mart familiarisation tours to the States in the region have been arranged by the State Government for the overseas delegates from October 17 to 26 to create awareness.
Dr Sharma said that we need to increase India�s share in world tourism from 0.68 to 1 per cent by 2020 to realise 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.