The Inaugural session of the 1st Tourism Working Group Meeting under G20 hosted by the Ministry of Tourism was held at Rann of Kutch, Gujarat today morning.
The inaugural session was addressed by Union Minister for Tourism, Culture and DoNER Shri G.Kishan Reddy, Union Minister Shri Parshottam Rupala, Minister for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying; and Chief Minister of Gujarat Sh. Bhupendra Bhai Patel along with opening remarks by TROKIA Brazil and Indonesia.
Addressing the inaugural session Union Minister for Culture, Tourism and DoNER Shri G.K Reddy said that despite the tourism sector being severely affected by COVID, India saw a good boost in Foreign Tourist Arrivals in 2022 and approximately 6.19 million foreign tourists were received in India during 2022. This is a four-fold increase in the number of Foreign Tourist Arrivals over last year.
Union Minister also informed that the Ministry of Tourism is celebrating this year as “Visit India Year 2023” focusing on in-bound travel to India. In India tourists can experience Boundless Cultural heritage; Blissful spiritual experiences; Bountiful wildlife resources and Beautiful natural beauty, the Minister explained.
Giving more details, Shri G.K Reddy said that over the last 8.5 years, India has built extensive tourism infrastructure worth approximately USD $ 1 Billion dollars (Rs. 7,000 Crores) to improve tourist experience. Union Minister also said that India has taken several initiatives for skilling youth including Short Term Hospitality courses, Skill Testing and Certification, Recognition of Prior Learning, Digital Courses online. He also said that India is nurturing and developing young ambassadors of Indian tourism through YUVA Tourism Clubs in schools and colleges across India.
Highlighting the importance of safety, the Union Minister remarked that the Government of India is focussed on ensuring the safety and wellbeing of tourists travelling in India and is formulating and implementing Uniform Tourist Police for providing a safe and secure environment to the tourists. G.K Reddy also said that India is appointing nodal officers in the Indian Missions abroad of the top 20 source countries.
Union Minister further said that the National Digital Tourism Mission (NDTM) is being formulated to ensure the digitalisation of the Tourism sector in Mission Mode and India has built many large scale Digital Public Infrastructure such as Aadhar for Identity and UPI for real-time payments.
Union Minister Shri Parshottam Rupala said the theme of India’s G20 Presidency – “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” affirms the value of all life – human, animal, plant, and microorganisms – and their interconnectedness on the planet Earth. Highlighting the importance of the Tourism Working Group in G20, he said that it was initiated under the presidency of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2020 and since then it has provided a platform for the member countries and stakeholders to discuss, deliberate and guide the course of action for further development of local and global tourism.
He also remarked that tourism sector in India is a significant economic multiplier and is becoming increasingly important as the country strives for rapid economic growth and employment creation.
Union Minister also said that the tourism working group has changed the traditional perspective of tourism to responsible, sustainable, and inclusive oriented form of tourism. Since the inception of tourism working group different presidencies have contributed to make tourism, an important tool for achieving Sustainable Development Goals 2030.
Speaking on the occasion, Chief Minister of Gujarat Sh. Bhupendra Bhai Patel said that Tourism brings us close to the nature. Tourism is a mode through which we can feel and experience the heritage and culture that has been passed on to us through our ancestors, thus leading to unity in diversity.
He also said that special provisions have been made for tourism development in this year’s Amrit Budget under the leadership of Prime Minister to face the immense diversity of India’s tourism activities to the world. The Chief Minister highlighted the vast and diverse tourist potential of the state of Gujarat.
In the working session, discussions were held on Greening of Tourism sector for a sustainable, responsible and resilient tourism sector; Harnessing the Power Of Digitalization to promote competitiveness, Inclusion and sustainability in tourism sector; Empowering youth with skills for jobs and entrepreneurship in tourism sector; Nurturing tourism MSMEs / Startups/ private sector to unleash innovation and dynamism in tourism sector; Rethinking the strategic management of destinations towards a holistic approach that delivers on the SDGs.
The delegates arrived in Dhordo on 7th February and were given a warm, colourful and traditional welcome which included performances by folk artists at the tent city, Dhordo, Rann of Kutch. Later in the evening, the delegates were taken to White Rann in beautifully decorated camel carts with vibrant folk Music and dance performances all along the way. The delegates enjoyed the beautiful sunset and took photographs with G20 logo. The dinner was preceded by a cultural night in which folk dances were performed by artists.