From showcasing Incredible India visiting delegates to positioning the country as a major travel destination during its year-long presidency, G20 will be the Union Tourism ministry’s focus area in 2023.
India assumed the presidency of the influential bloc on December 1, setting the tone for the ministry’s calendar this year. More than 200 meetings will be held across 55 locations, culminating with the annual G20 summit on September 9-10. The Tourism ministry is geared up to put its best foot forward and showcase to the guests from different countries the cultural heritage and culinary delights of India.
The first G20 meeting — the Sherpa meet — was held in the first week of December in Rajasthan’s Udaipur. From artistic murals to decking up of heritage sites with lights, the old city played the perfect host as iconic buildings were chosen as venues, besides sightseeing to Kumbhalgarh Fort — a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Preparations for the G20 meetings are underway and the first meet under the tourism track will be held in the picturesque Rann of Kutch in Gujarat in late January or early February, Union Tourism Secretary Arvind Singh had said.
“The second meeting (in this category) will be held in Siliguri (West Bengal), the third one in Srinagar and the fourth one in Goa," Singh had said, adding sustainability would be one of the priority areas when India hosts the G20 events.
The 55 locations for the meetings span big metros to smaller cities, including those rich in history and scenic beauty such as Hampi and Khajuraho. These locations will also include Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities that have picturesque landscapes and are rich in cultural heritage.
“So, these cities will also get spruced up as part of the preparations for the G20 meetings," Singh had told PTI in November. At a press conference in Aizawl, Union Tourism Minister G Kishan Reddy had said some of the meetings of the influential group were planned to be held across the Northeast and the Mizoram capital would host one of these. Also, 100 viewpoints would be constructed along highways in the Northeast, starting with nine in Mizoram, he had said.
Twenty-two of these viewpoints with wayside amenities are expected to be completed before next monsoon, the ministry has said. Reddy took part in the the 10th International Tourism Mart (ITM) for the Northeast that put a spotlight on the region’s tourism potential and was held in Aizawl from November 17-19 to facilitate interaction among government agencies, business fraternity, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders.
Private companies in the hospitality sector are “showing an appetite to invest in the Northeast," Tourism Secretary Singh had said in Aizawl. The event also focused on “priorities of G20 for tourism track". This was Mizoram’s first time hosting the ITM.
“We have to use this occasion (G20 meetings) to showcase our cultural and traditional heritage to the foreign guests," Reddy had later said during the event’s opening ceremony.
India sharpened its focus on G20 much before the presidency was handed over by Indonesia. During a national conference of state tourism ministers in Himachal Pradesh’s Dharamshala from September 18-20, Singh had said India planned to position itself as a “major tourism destination" during its G20 presidency. Tourism-related aspects of the G20 leaders’ summit were also discussed during the conference organised by the ministry in the hill town.
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