The 4th International Tourism Mart (ITM) was inaugurated by the Minister of State for Tourism (Independent Charge), Culture (Independent Charge) and Civil Aviation, Dr. Mahesh Sharma, along with the Chief Minister of Sikkim, Pawan Chamling in Gangtok, Sikkim. The ITM has been organized by the Union Ministry of Tourism in association with the North Eastern States and the state of West Bengal.
Inaugurating the Mart, the Union Tourism Minister, Dr. Sharma said that the ITM helps to showcase to the world the rich and untapped potential of the North East States. Dr Sharma said that the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has a great vision to develop the North East which has a very high tourism potential in the country. Promoting tourism in these states will be one of the prime focus areas of the Ministry of Tourism, the Minister added. Dr Mahesh Sharma said that improving connectivity is the key to promoting tourism in the North East. The Minister informed that Sikkim will have its own airport in Pakyong, 35 Km away from Gangtok by December 2016. Centre will work to create better road connectivity for the public through National Highways for the North East. He assured that he will discuss the matter of road connectivity with the concerned ministry.
Dr. Mahesh Sharma appreciated the fact that Sikkim is soon going to become the first 100 percent organic state in the country. The Prime Minister will declare Sikkim as a
Highlighting the importance of tourism for a country, Dr. Mahesh Sharma said tourism is an economic engine for the country’s growth and development. Tourism can contribute 8-9% to the GDP if we achieve 1% share of International tourist arrivals around the World. At present India’s share in International tourist arrivals around the World is 0.68%. Tourism helps to generate employment and women empowerment, he added. Dr Mahesh Sharma also said that the facility of e-Visa have been extended to 113 countries and the Government will extend it to 150 countries by March Next year.
Pawan Chamling, delivering the keynote address, highlighted the initiatives taken by theGovernment of Sikkim to make the State a most preferred tourism destination in the region. Shri Chamling said that we have created a comprehensive action plan to develop tourism in order to showcase and share the cultural and natural heritage of Sikkim with the world. Village Tourism and Home Stays have a tremendous potential in Sikkim as the villages are well developed and well connected. A Village Development Action Plan has been prepared for the purpose, he explained.
Secretary, Tourism, Vinod Zutshi said that the Government is developing North East region in terms of all aspects–tourism, education, health, transport networks, telecommunications, information technology, electricity grids, flow of investment and trade and everything else that is needed to harness its economic and commercial potential and raise the standards of living of our people in this region.
This 4th International Tourism Mart 2015, spread over three days is seeing
The State Tourism Departments of eight north eastern states and West Bengal have put up colourful exhibitions at the mart venue which were earlier inaugurated by the Union Tourism Minister and the Chief Minister of Sikkim. These States are also highlighting their rich and varied culture and distinct cuisines.