Green tourism, skill development of locals dominate talks at second G20 TWR

Siliguri: The meeting, being held in Darjeeling and Siliguri in West Bengal from April 1 to 3, is being attended by more than 130 participants

BY | Sunday, 2 April, 2023
Union Minister for Culture, Tourism and DoNER, G. Kishan Reddy attends the side event of 2nd G20 TWG meeting at Darjeeling, in West Bengal on 2 April 2023. (PIB)

Green tourism, skill development and livelihood opportunities for local communities, and role of MSMEs in the tourism sector were part of discussions held at the second G20 Tourism Working Group meeting here on Sunday.

The meeting, being held in Darjeeling and Siliguri in West Bengal from April 1 to 3, is being attended by more than 130 participants, including delegates of G20 members, invitee countries and international organisations, industry partners, state tourism officials and local tour operators.

Several hours of discussions were held and now it is to see the hardwork getting translated on ground, a delegate from Germany said after the closed-door meeting.

He told PTI that “a lot of discussion was held on Green tourism, skill development and livelihood opportunities for local communities which is important for all of us”. The delegate said a roadmap was also laid for the next meet in Goa.

Another delegate said the main takeaway from the meeting was how Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) can play an important role in the tourism sector.

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Discussions were also held on how to overcome the impact of Covid on tourism and what measures have been taken by different countries to deal with it, according to another delegate.

In his opening remarks on the second day of the meeting, Union Tourism Minister G Kishan Reddy said the vision of the conference is to project domestic tourism in mission mode. “It will also make India maximise its potential in the tourism sector,” he said.

“The Union Ministry of Tourism has formulated a comprehensive tourism policy with holistic plans for sustainable and responsible growth of the tourism sector in the country,” Reddy said.

Welcoming the delegates to Siliguri, Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs John Barla said West Bengal is the land from where India got its national anthem.

“West Bengal is a favourite destination for tourists from not only India but across the world, and hence, infrastructure development and promotion of tourism are going on in tandem to draw more globetrotters to this part of the country,” he said.

A side event focussing on adventure tourism was also held.

Addressing the session, Reddy said the government is planning to launch two mega adventure tourism trails this year. “The ministry will work with states and industries for development of two adventure mega trails in 2023 — the Ganga trail and northwestern Himalayan trails,” he said.

Union Minister G. Kishan Reddy with delegates participating in Moonlight tea plucking and tea tasting at Darjeeling, in West Bengal on 1 April 2023.

A senior official said the government is starting with these two trails but will be launching more in the future.

“There will be Narmada trail from Amarkantank to Arabian sea, Kaveri river trail, West Coast trail from Kutch to Kanyakumari, East Coast trail from West Bengal to Kanyakumari,” the official said.

Speaking on the sidelines of the event, a senior tourism official said the government is coming out with a law for adventure tourism safety which will have provisions for constitution of state level safety bodies, penalties for violations and a requisite insurance scheme.

The day started with a yoga session organised by the AYUSH ministry for the delegates from G20 member countries.

Later, a Himalayan Car Rally was flagged off by the Union tourism minister, accompanied by Minister Barla, MP Raju Bista, the tourism secretary and the foreign delegates.

By Uzmi Athar

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