Welcome G20 delegates
Third G20 Tourism Working Group Meeting has begun in Srinagar city setting the stage for discussions and deliberations on final deliverables. As confirmed by the high union government officials, this is the only working group meeting taking place in Srinagar as part of G20 effort with excellent response from all the member countries, all the invited countries and the international organisations, having the highest participation registered compared to the first two Tourism Working Group Meetings at Rann of Kutch and Siliguri. The participants of the event will will deliberate on the five key priority areas — Green Tourism, Digitalization, Skills, MSMEs and Destination Management and give valuable inputs and feedback on draft documents and after negotiations with G20 Member Countries on these drafts, final versions will be placed in the ‘Fourth Tourism Working Group Meeting’ to be held in Goa.
Holding the working group meeting in Srinagar is a welcome development. It goes without saying that Kashmir is the most sought after tourism destination domestically and used to attract good number of foreign tourists as well. However, the violence that erupted in early 90’s has had very adverse impact on tourism. While several countries issued travel advisories to their citizens against visiting Kashmir, the turbulent atmosphere also reduced the domestic tourist footfall drastically. Once the flourishing business sector tourism, adding to the GDP of the state, came trembling down and the people associated with faced too many problems. Fortunately, post 2019, this sector has once again picked up following the improvement in the situation and a huge tourist footfall was witnessed in 2022 and hopefully, 2023 is going to see much more visitors in comparison to previous year.
In this backdrop, holding of the G20 working group meeting here could be a great game changer. On one hand it would provide a first-hand opportunity to the visiting delegates to see for themselves the scenic beauty, the colourful culture and unparalleled hospitality of the place and on the other hand it would provide an opportunity to local stakeholders to come up with their inputs to help boost tourism sector in Kashmir.
It is hoped that following the event, the member countries would not only remove the adverse travel advisory but after witnessing the serene and peaceful atmosphere prevalentin Kashmir Valley, will encourage their people to visit the place dotted with deep and colourful valleys and mighty mountains, serene and vast lakes to dancing streams. This event will help spread the message all over the world that Kashmir is all set to host tourists from any part of the world and once that message reaches the interested quarters, tourism sector here is going to get a boost helping the economy here in a big way.
People of Kashmir, while welcoming the visiting dignitaries to this beautiful place, have high hopes that their presence here will help put tourism sector back on rails. It will ensure that Kashmir re-emerges on the world tourism map with a bang. Kashmir needs visitors and the nature lover, adventure lovers need Kashmir.