NEW DELHI, April 28 – Overwhelmed by the response to the innovative LTC scheme for Central Government employees, leading to record growth of tourists’ inflow into the North-East to the tune of 21 per cent in the last couple of years, the Centre has extended the scheme for another two years, official sources on Wednesday confirmed.
Over 57.04 lakh government employees travelled to the picturesque North-East till now by and large avoided by tourists because of the looming dangers posed by insurgency. Meghalaya followed by Sikkim and Assam were the most favourite destination, according to the available figures.
Officials said that the scheme of relaxation of Leave Travel Concession (LTC) rules allowing the Central Government employees to travel to the different parts of North Eastern region by air has been extended by two years with effect from May 1. The Department of Personal and Training has issued a notice pertaining to the effect on April 20.
Minister of State for Personnel and Public Grievances, Prithviraj Chavan in a Lok Sabha reply has also confirmed the extension of time limit to visit NE region by air in relaxation of LTC rules, 1988 for two years.
Sources said that Union Minister of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), Bijoy Krishna Handique had set the ball rolling for extension of the scheme in February. He wrote to the Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pension, Prithviraj Chavan calling for extension of the scheme citing the tremendous response generated among the Central Government Employees in the past twenty months.
Handique, further, mentioned that the extension would give necessary fillip to the tourism potential of the NER in particular, and the economy in general, sources added.
According to available data, the inflow of domestic tourists to the eight NE States recorded a growth of 21 per cent in the last two years. Last year, saw a growth of 11 per cent in the inflow of domestic tourists over the previous year.
This growth is primarily attributed to the huge increase in LTC tourists since introduction of the scheme in May, 2008 at behest of the Ministry of DoNER. There was a total domestic inflow of 5.7 million tourists in the year 2009.
Handique has appealed to all the State Governments and people of NER to avail this opportunity to give a boost to the tourism in order to create more employment avenues.