Arvind Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, shares details of the second Tourism Working Group (TWG) meeting, held in Siliguri, West Bengal, from 1-3 April 2023. Fifty-six delegates from 17 member countries, eight invitee countries and four international organizations attended the meeting.
GKishan Reddy, Minister of Tourism, Culture and DONER, along with John Barla, Minister of State for Minority Affairs, graced the inaugural session of the TWG meeting, attended by 56 delegates from 17 member countries, eight invitee countries and four international organizations.
The working group meeting was preceded by side event on 1 April on the theme, ‘Adventure Tourism as a vehicle for achieving Sustainable Development Goals’. Discussions were held on promoting Adventure Tourism and presentations on Global and Indian scenario of Adventure Tourism were given.
Reddy, in his inaugural address, said, “The vision is to make India a one trillion dollar tourism economy by 2047 – our 100th year of Independence.”
He said that MOT has also formulated a Draft National Tourism Policy. The new policy is a holistic framework for sustainable and responsible growth of the tourism sector in the country and aims at improving framework conditions for tourism development in the country.”
Singh informed that the next TWG meeting will be held in North India. He said that in the 2nd TWG meeting, all countries unanimously adopted green tourism to be the most important priority for all the participating countries. “In the first working group meeting in Rann of Kutch, we had introduced the priorities and everybody gave the initial remarks. In Siliguri, there was a deeper discussion, because after the first working group meeting, the UNWTO had conducted a survey among all the member countries. Their responses had come on the priorities and the result of those surveys was presented by UNWTO. The UNEP had made a presentation on the Mission for L!FE, which was launched by the Prime Minister and the UN Secretary General, which was relevant for the tourism sector and how it can be adapted because that is also part of what will be one of the deliverables after the ministerial meeting at Goa,” he informed. He added. “The UNWTO conducted a workshop among all the countries, who shared all the priorities. All the countries engaged, participated very positively, gave their suggestions. Finally, we had presentations by all the countries on various themes. There were high quality presentations, which were appreciated by all.”
Presentations were made by Turkiye, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Indonesia, Italy on five priorities of Green Tourism, Digitalisation, Skills, Tourism MSMEs, Destination Management respectively.
Singh also mentioned that the two themed side events on adventure tourism were also good. “One side event brought a global perspective and the global best practices were shared with G20 candidates, delegates and the Indian industry. On the second day, we saw a totally domestic perspective, as best practices in India were shared. State representatives from Northeast, Uttarakhand, Jammu & Kashmir and industry representatives were also present,” he informed.
Overall, in terms of substantive output also, he said, “We are satisfied and progressing in the right direction as far as our deliverables, which is the Goa communique, which will happen after the ministerial meeting and the Travel for L!fe campaign communique, that will also come out. We have two more working group meetings. The next one will be from 22-24 May in Northern India and in June the last working group meeting will be held in Goa, which will be followed by the ministerial meeting there.”
Singh also shared that they are pushing theme areas at every meeting. “At Rann of Kutch, we pushed rural tourism and archaeological tourism, which were relevant for that area. We promoted adventure tourism at Darjeeling and Siliguri, and we will promote cruise tourism at Goa,” he said.