Concessionary travel for Maldivian civil servants on way, reports Times of India

Maldivian civil servants are likely to be given concessionary travel status by India, reports the Times of India.

The Indian government is said to be considering granting leave travel concession (LTC) for government employees to Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives in order boost tourism.

Sources in India’s tourism ministry told the Times that 200,000 civil servants in the region could benefit from the arrangement.

“But there will have to be some reciprocal arrangement. We are working on that,” the paper quoted ministry sources as saying – adding that neighbouring governments had been contacted.

The theme of the Kathmandu Declaration – signed at the conclusion of last month’s SAARC summit in Nepal – was ‘Deeper Integration for Peace and Prosperity’.

“It is still harder to travel within our region than to Bangkok or Singapore, and more expensive to speak to each other,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is reported to have told neighbouring heads of state during the summit.

The Times noted that travel between the Maldives and India had dropped by 10% between 2012 and 2013.

Indian visa regulations were tightened just weeks after the premature termination of a US$500 million airport development deal with Indian infrastructure giant GMR in late 2012. Indian authorities at the time claimed the decision to have been intended to draw attention to the Maldives’ treatment of expatriate workers.

Shortly after President Abdulla Yameen’s trip to Indian in January, the Indian High Commission in Malé announced that all restrictions had been lifted – with High Commissioner Rajeev Shahare noting that the Maldives now enjoyed visa privileges afforded to no other country.

Source: Times of India