Kashmir welcomes G20 delegates as 3rd tourism working group meeting kicks off in Srinagar
Govt to soon declare national tourism policy: Minister Reddy; says there’s tremendous scope for promoting spiritual tourism in J&K
G20 delegates enjoying a Shikara ride on the first evening of the third working group meeting
Srinagar: Delegates of all G20 countries, barring China, arrived in Srinagar on Monday for the third working group meeting on tourism, for which authorities have made elaborate security arrangements and spruced up the summer capital.
The delegates were given a traditional Indian welcome at the Srinagar airport with performances by local artists, and the three-day meet kicked off with a side event on ‘Film Tourism for Economic Growth and Cultural Preservation’.
At Grand Lalit, the delegates were received amid traditional Kashmiri Rouf performed by Kashmiri girls donning traditional Kashmiri attire while the local bands played folk Kashmiri music.
Post-August 2019, this is the first international event that is being organised in Srinagar. Delegates from 17 members countries are attending the even while delegates from China, Turkey and Kingom of Saudi Arabia are not participating.
As revealed by the officials earlier, compared to the first two Tourism Working Group Meetings at Rann of Kutch and Siliguri, the Srinagar meeting is having the highest participation registered.
The meetings are being held at SKICC while as the delegates would also be visiting several places of tourist attraction.
On the first evening of the event, the delegates had a Shikara ride in the famed Dal Lake.
The event has generated much hope amongst the people who expect a tourist bloom in the aftermath of the event.
Delegates listening during a panel discussion at SKICC.
“All the G20 countries except China participated. This meeting had an overwhelming response. We had 61 delegates here. All countries except China are present here,” India’s G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant told reporters at a press conference.
“Kashmir, where tourism is a major industry, is embarking on an exciting journey with the G20 event in the Valley and it will send a strong message against Pakistan-sponsored terrorism,” Union ministers who have been camping here to oversee the event said.
Kant downplayed the absence of Chinese delegates, saying travel and tourism is a private sector activity and trade delegations from several countries had participated.
Officials said it is not that all invitees attend every meeting and some have skipped those held in other parts of the country also.
Asked about the negative travel advisories of many foreign countries on Jammu and Kashmir, India’s G20 Sherpa said the “officials from G7 countries were participating and they would not have come here if there were any such advisory.”
G20 Chief Coordinator Harsh Vardhan Shringla stressed that not much should be read into the absence of some delegations as 43 countries and organisations had been invited to various meetings under India’s G20 presidency and not all had attended each one of them.
“So, it will be missing the woods for the trees if we read too much into one country not coming to our meeting,” he said when asked about Saudi Arabia not sending an official delegation to the meeting.
Meanwhile, the government is planning to hold a global tourism investment summit and will soon declare a national tourism policy, Union minister G Kishan Reddy said on Monday.
He also said there is a tremendous scope for promoting spiritual tourism in Jammu and Kashmir.
Reddy was addressing a press conference at SKICC here after the culmination of a side event on ‘Film Tourism for Economic and Cultural Preservation’ as part of the three-day third Tourism Working Group Meeting of the G20. Union minister Jitendra Singh and India’s G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant were also present at the presser.
“We are going to soon declare a national tourism policy for India. We are planning a global tourism investment summit,” Reddy, the Minister for Culture and Tourism, said.
He said the Centre is allowing 100 percent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in tourism.
“Our idea is that without private investment, we cannot become a global destination,” he added.
Reddy said the Union government and the Ministry of Tourism are closely working with all the ministries and the state governments to encourage tourism.
A delegate shakes a leg with an artist ahead of dinner.
“The government of India is also working with all the G20 countries and invited countries for developing sustainable tourism,” he added.
Speaking at the presser, G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant said India is hosting the G20 presidency at a time of “global turbulence”.
“Seventy percent of countries are facing a debt crisis. People have lost jobs. But, India sees G20 as an opportunity,” he said.
“We are growing at a high rate of around seven per cent. We have built 40 million houses, provided toilet connection to 110 million people, drinking water connection to 240 million people. We have made 55,000 kilometres of road. Inclusive, resilient and sustainable growth is our priority. If there is growth, we will be able to lift people out of poverty,” he said.
There is a need to transform multilateral financial institutions to ensure that resources flow to emerging countries, Kant said.
He said India thought of making G20 as the people’s presidency and the country is hosting the G20 events in 60 cities.
“It is unparalleled. The meeting in Kashmir is very very important for us as we believe in peace and prosperity,” he said.
Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh said holding the G20 event in Srinagar was an achievement in itself.
“I am sure the delegates coming here will be able to falsify the perception that is sought to be created by vested interests. The common man wants to move on.
“He wants development and progress. He no longer wants to be part of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. He has seen the development across the country and avenues for progress under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi. He does not want to miss the bus,” Singh said.
He said the G20 meeting in the valley is being carried out in the same format as is being done in other 60 venues.
“This speaks of the mainstream activity happening here,” he added.