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Tourism: G20 events dominated headlines in 2023; ITM Shillong put spotlight on NE

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New Delhi, Dec 26: G20 tourism track events culminating with a ministerial meeting held under India’s presidency of the influential bloc hogged headlines this year as the country pulled out all stops to showcase its vibrant culture and diverse destinations to the world.
India assumed the chair of the G20 on December 1 in 2022, setting the tone for the Tourism Ministry’s calendar in 2023.
More than 200 meetings were held under various tracks across a large number of locations in the country, culminating with the G20 Summit on September 9-10 in Delhi attended by the top leaders of the world, including US President Joe Biden, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron.
The G20 New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration was adopted during the summit.
From showcasing Incredible India to the visiting delegates to positioning the country as a major travel destination, the G20 was the focus area for the Tourism Ministry during the yearlong presidency.
The meeting of the first Tourism Working Group (TWG) was held in the picturesque Rann of Kutch in Gujarat. Over 100 G20 delegates from India and abroad attended the event from February 7-9. On February 9, they also visited the Harappa-era Dholavira site, which find a place in the UNESCO Word Heritage List.
The then Union Tourism Secretary Arvind Singh, during an interaction with the media in Delhi after the first TWG meeting had said that all the five key priority areas — Green Tourism, Digitalisation, Skills, Tourism MSMEs, Destination Management — set for the deliberations during the first meeting were “endorsed by all member countries, invitee countries and international organisations”.
The second TWG meeting was held held at Siliguri-Darjeeling from April 1 to 3, and the third one was hosted in Srinagar from May 22-24.
Goa played host to the last meeting under the tourism track followed by the G20 Tourism Ministerial Meeting, from June 19-22. A Goa Roadmap and Action Plan and a ministerial outcome document was issued at the end of the ministerial meeting.
The five key priorities of the G20 tourism track were “endorsed by all G20 countries” for achieving a sustainable, resilient and inclusive growth in the sector.
About 130 delegates from countries such as the US, the UK, Spain, South Africa, Russia, Mauritius, Australia, Singapore, South Korea, Indonesia, Nigeria, Oman, the Netherlands, Bangladesh, and top international organisations took part in the ministerial meeting.
The delegates were greeted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi via a recorded video message in which he welcomed them to “Incredible India”. Asserting the ethos of ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’, he invited G20 delegates to visit India during the 2024 general elections and witness the “festival of democracy”.
The New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration adopted during the G20 Summit underlined the significance of the “Goa Roadmap for Tourism as a vehicle for achieving SDGs”, the ministry had said after the end of the mega conclave in September.
A “significant milestone” achieved during the Summit was the “unanimous endorsement” of the pivotal role of tourism and culture in sustainable socio-economic development and prosperity, the Ministry of Tourism had said.
In 2023, India also hosted the 46th edition of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Travel Mart in Delhi from October 4-6. The physical version of the event was held after a hiatus of three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The success of the G20 Summit has already “placed India as one of the sought-after destinations for hosting larger scale events and conferences”, the ministry said.
Among other major events, the Ministry of Tourism, on World Tourism Day on September 27, had globally launched the sustainable program of Travel for LiFE, under the aegis of Mission LiFE, targeted towards the tourism sector, promoting tourists to follow responsible behaviour while travelling.
A three-day mega tourism conclave was held in Meghalaya’s scenic capital Shillong that ended on November 23.
The 11th edition of the International Tourism Mart (ITM) was inaugurated by Union Minister of State for Tourism Shripad Naik in the presence of Chief Minister Sangma, Meghalaya Tourism Minister Paul Lyngdoh, Union Tourism Secretary V Vidyavathi.
The mega event aimed at highlighting the tourism potential of India’s northeast region and its rich biodiversity while laying emphasis on the government’s Mission LiFE.
Mission LiFE (Lifestyle for Environment) is an India-led global mass movement to nudge individual and community action to protect and preserve the environment.
“The kind of economic growth we are seeing in the Northeast is unprecedented. In the last many years, the kind of support that has come from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the government of India and different ministries has been unprecedented,” Sangma said in his address.
The conclave showed the path for greater sustainability as organisers did not use single-use plastic during any of its events and digital technology was leveraged seeking to reduce usage of paper to a bare minimum.
The ministry in August launched an ambitious campaign to showcase India as a premier wedding destination globally.
This campaign also envisions to explore avenues of great potential, for scaling tourism in India to new heights. (PTI)

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