Even as some member countries including China decided to stay away, the G20 Tourism Working Group meeting in Srinagar has the highest delegate participation compared to previous such meetings.
This was stated by G20 chief coordinator Harshvardhan Shringla at a press conference in Srinagar.
“The representation in this working group is maximum. Such participation was not seen in earlier meetings,’’ he said. “ This is a matter of pride for us that this meeting is being held in such a beautiful place.”
Members from the Organisation of Islamic Counties (OIC) and the ambassadors of Nigeria and Indonesia are attending the summit.
“From Singapore, the US and the UK, four to five participants are coming to attend the meeting,” he said, adding that tourism experts from the UN are also coming.
“It's a matter of great satisfaction for us that such important dignitaries are attending the meeting in Kashmir”.
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 one of the main agendas of the working group is film tourism.
“There will be efforts to showcase the potential of Jammu and Kashmir for film tourism,’’ he said. “I have no doubt that this will succeed in getting a different sort of tourism for Kashmir.”
Shringla also exuded confidence that adventure tourism, eco-tourism and sustainable tourism will gain traction and the influx of foreign tourists will increase.
The organisers of the event are hopeful that it will also help boost Jammu and Kashmir’s economy, he said.
Shringla further claimed that Srinagar is also being developed as a smart city and various projects are being completed. “Fibre optics are being laid down and a huge development has taken place on war-footing,” he said.
J&K Chief Secretary Arun Kumar Mehta noted that tourist footfall has witnessed an unprecedented rise in the Union Territory.
“Last year 1.88 crore tourists visited J&K,” he said. “This is just the beginning. We will be having a direct train from Delhi to Srinagar next year and that will be a technological wonder.”
Mehta said 300 new tourist destinations are ready to be explored in the UT and informed that Sonmarg is going to be open throughout the year.
The Tourism Working Group meeting in Srinagar will deliberate on five key priorities that include green tourism, digitisation, skills, tourism MSMEs/ startups and private sector and destination management.
The inaugural session will be addressed by Minister for Culture G. Kishan Reddy, Minister of State for Science and Technology Jitendra Singh, Minister for Tourism Arvind Singh, J&K LG Manoj Sinha and G20 Sherpa Amitab Kant.