G20 Tourism Track Meeting ‘Most Significant Event’ In J&K, Says Harshvardhan Shringla

DE Web Desk
SRINAGAR, May 21: The G20 Tourism Working Group meeting here has the highest delegate participation and will be the most significant event held in Jammu and Kashmir, G20 Chief Coordinator Harshvardhan Shringla said on Sunday. ”We have the highest representation of foreign delegates in this working group meeting than the earlier two meetings. All I can say is we are very very happy with the turnout. We have the making of a unique meeting,” Shringla told reporters here. Shringla was responding to a question about some member countries not registering for the working group meeting. Accompanied by Jammu and Kashmir Chief secretary AK Mehta and the central government’s Tourism Secretary Arvind Singh, he briefed the media about the itinerary of the three-day meeting that begins on Monday. Srinagar will host the third G20 Tourism Working Group meeting from May 22-24. The first meeting was held in the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat in February and the second one in West Bengal’s Siliguri in April.
Shringla said the working group meeting has the broader objectives to present India’s rich and diverse cultural identity and promote the country’s tourism potential to the world.
”The very idea is to use this meeting to bring attention to Jammu and Kashmir and how it can help revive handicrafts, etc. It is an opportunity to present our rich culture and heritage. No other working group does it better than the tourism group,” he said. ”This will be the most significant event in Jammu and Kashmir,” Shringla added. India is halfway through its G20 presidency and 118 meetings have been held in various parts of the country so far, the G20 chief coordinator said.
”We have hosted 118 meetings from the Rann of Kutch to Kohima and from Kanyakumari and now to Kashmir. There has been a sense of attachment everywhere and I have no doubt it is the same in Srinagar. ”As we drive around Srinagar, we see a completely transformed city. Srinagar today is vastly more beautiful. (It has) better amenities. It is truly a smart city, which you would want to showcase to the world,” he added. Asked about the negative advisories issued by certain western countries about travel to Kashmir, Shringla said these mean nothing when foreign tourists are visiting the Valley despite such advice. ”Last year, 1.88 crore tourists came to Jammu and Kashmir and a very large number of them were foreign tourists. Foreigners will come in and come in large numbers. At the end of the day, what do advisories mean? They mean nothing,” he said. Shringla said the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is to ensure that the message of India’s G20 presidency is taken down to the grassroots level through the ‘Jan Bhagidari’ process and a lot of efforts have been made to sensitise the people of the country about the G20.
Giving details of the event, Tourism Secretary Singh said the stage is set for discussions and deliberations on final deliverables.
”There are two key deliverables of the Tourism Working Group, which include the GOA Roadmap for Tourism as a vehicle for achieving sustainable development goals (SDGs) and the G20 Tourism Ministers’ Declaration,” Singh said. The third Tourism Working Group meeting will deliberate on the five key priority areas — green tourism, digitalization, skills, MSMEs and destination management. These priorities are key building blocks for accelerating the transition of the tourism sector and achieving the targets for 2030 SDGs, he said.
A side event on ‘Film Tourism for Economic Growth and Cultural Preservation’ will be organised on May 22-23, focusing on strategies to promote film tourism in the Union Territory, Singh added. The event will witness the participation of G20 member countries, invited countries, international organisations and industry stakeholders. Singh further said a draft ‘National Strategy on Film Tourism’ will be unveiled to provide a roadmap for harnessing the role of films in promoting tourist destinations.