AKIPRESS.COM - India hosted the third meeting of the G20 Tourism Working Group (TWG) in Srinagar, capital of federally administered territory of Jammu & Kashmir, from May 22-24, Voice of America reported.
About 60 delegates representing most G-20 nations attended the three-day meeting. Delegates discussed ecotourism, destination management and tourism promotion strategies. The gathering is the first international event held in Kashmir since India ended the region’s semi-autonomy in 2019.
India began showcasing the Himalayan region of Kashmir to tourism officials of Group of 20 countries, hoping to attract foreign visitors to the picture-postcard territory troubled by a three-decades of insurgency.
In December 2022, as India took over the G20 presidency, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that this was a “unique opportunity” for the nation to “showcase the country’s strengths”. He said that India’s G20 presidency will set a global example of “people’s participation” and present the country’s States and Union Territories (UTs) as attractive global investment and tourism destinations.
Therefore, the Third G20 Tourism Working Group (TWG) convention in the serene Kashmir Valley bears special significance not only for unlocking the treasures of the region’s tourism sector but also for the people’s participation to showcase India’s strengths.
The federal territory of Jammu and Kashmir has been roiled by militant violence since 1989, disrupting a thriving tourism sector in a region called the “Switzerland of India” for its snow-capped mountains, lush meadows, tulip gardens and lakes. Tens of thousands of people have been killed, although the violence has tapered off in recent years, especially after the removal special status and domestic tourism has boomed.
India’s Tourism Minister G. Kishan Reddy while inaugurating the meeting said a record 18.4 million tourists visited Kashmir in 2022 and the government was expecting that number to grow and include more foreign visitors.
Kashmir tourism officials said the 2022 number included only 20,000 foreign visitors, mostly from Malaysia, Indonesia, South Korea and Taiwan, and that the focus was now to attract tourists from Europe.
Spain, Singapore, Mauritius, Nigeria, South Africa, Brazil and India are among seven countries discussed the global perspective of film tourism, as well as, its economic benefits and impact in Jammu & Kashmir.
“For the last 30 years, this land of peaceful co-existence of almost all religions had to suffer terrorism,” Manoj Sinha, Jammu and Kashmir’s chief administrator, told the opening of the G-20 tourism working group meeting in Srinagar. However, the India’s federal government had “isolated the terror eco-system,” Sinha told the meeting.
India’s G-20 "sherpa" Amitabh Kant said that the response to the meeting was overwhelming, with 60 foreign delegates taking part.
The G-20 tourism meeting in Srinagar is part of a series of meetings India has organized across the country in the run-up to the summit in New Delhi in September. India assumed the year-long presidency of the G-20 on December 1, 2022, and is hosting the G-20 summit for the first time.