The 15th ATOAI was focused on crafting a sustainable future for adventure tourism in India with the theme ‘ Indian Adventure Travel: Exploring New Frontiers!’ There were various FAM trips organised before the Convention to destinations such as Ahmedabad, Ambaji, Nadabet, Dwarka Statue of Unity etc. offering immersive experiences to the delegates. On December 16, the delegates were taken for a trip to Sardar Sarovar Dam & and Statue of Unity after registration. Mr. Ajeet Bajaj, Padmashri Awardee & President, ATOAI gave his opening address which was followed by a cultural program in which various dance forms such as Dandiya Ras, Garba etc were performed beautifully by the local artists. The Welcome dinner was organised after that.
On the second day of the Convention, the exhibition stalls were inaugurated by the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, Shri Pema Khandu; Hon’ble Minister of Tourism, Government of Gujarat, Shri Mulubhai Bera; Shri Hareet Shukla, Secretary Tourism, Govt. of Gujarat and the Deputy Chief of Indian Army, DCOAS(IS&C) MoT, Lt. Rakesh Kapoor. Addressing and welcoming the gathering during the inaugural ceremony, President ATOAI, Padma Shri Ajeet Bajaj said, “It’s great for all of us to get together to celebrate adventure tourism, a profession and passion which we love, after a gap of five years. I would like to thank the Government of Gujarat for rolling out a green carpet welcome for all of us. Our vision for adventure tourism in India is that as we all know just before the pandemic, the adventure tourism industry was to be a trillion-dollar industry by 2024 and in a country like India we have everything with 73% of the Himalayan ranges in India and a 7000 km coastline. We are one of the world’s leading biodiversity hotspots and have every conceivable geographical terrain. The World Economic Forum ranks our National Heritage as among the ten best in the world. Our mission and vision is to have our country ranked amongst the ten best adventure destinations in the world in the next ten years. We are getting a lot of support from our Ministry of Tourism, Government of India.”111111
Talking about the Government initiatives he added, “The Ministry has set up a National Board for Adventure Tourism. I am also very pleased to inform you that the Government of India has agreed to our proposal to set up two mega the Western Himalayan Mega Trail and the Ganga Nature and Heritage Trail which is the very soul of India. As adventure operators, we have to remember the three ‘G’s for risk mitigation which are guidelines, gear and our guides and they need to be our guiding principles. We are working closely with the Bureau of Indian Standards to standardise adventure equipment for adventure sports in the country. Most importantly, all of us have to be custodians for Mother Nature for the beautiful wilderness areas of our country and all of us have to pledge to be honorary wardens with a strict ‘leave no trace ethos’.”
As a pre-event to the upcoming Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit in January 2024, ATOAI’s 15th Annual Adventure Tourism Convention 2023 supported by the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat is the first adventure tourism conference to be held in the state of Gujarat. Various Central and State dignitaries and government officials attended the Convention.
Shri Pema Khandu while addressing the gathering shed light on various aspects of the state and the development that has taken place over the last years in the region. He also remarked that in terms of adventure tourism, Arunachal Pradesh along with the North-eastern region has numerous locations and activities to offer. He further said that under the leadership of our Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, his initiatives such as ‘Dekho Apna Desh’ have driven tourism in India and given a boost to the industry country-wide. The further goal is for us to develop vibrant villages to promote a sustainable model of tourism.
Col. Ranveer Jamwal, SM, VSM** National Adventure Awardee 3 Times Everester Director NIMAS spoke on ‘The Way Forward’: Vision Indian Adventure’. Detailed presentations were given on Gujarat Tourism and Punjab Tourism by Senior Tourism officials present to attend the Convention. Another highlight of the Convention was the special talk ‘My Tryst with the Outdoors’ which was given by Milind Soman, Celebrity Sport and Adventure Enthusiast. The Convention was dotted with Breakaway sessions on topics such as Insurance, Leave no Trace and Standard Operating Procedures, MoT recognition etc.
To further boost the State’s tourism, in the lead-up to the upcoming Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit in January 2024, several MoUs were signed to build capacities for knowledge-sharing on Adventure Tourism and MoUs worth Rs. 770cr were signed towards Film Shooting and Infrastructure development.
Day 3 of the Convention began with the ‘ATOAI – Leading the Way with Carbon Negative event’ by Ajeet Bajaj and Jaideep Bansal. Sustainability was the key highlight of this event for which the ATOAI team made special efforts such as use of glasses and glass bottles, use of sugar cubes instead of sachets, limited use of single-use plastics, use of digital screens was encouraged, paper boxes for packed snacks, saying no to printed itineraries, nameand luggage tags made with handmade paper with seeds infused in it, meticulous food serving and planning which was indeed remarkable. Speaking about the Convention, Arshdeep Anand, Chairperson for AWC said, “This year’s convention promises us an exhilarating line-up of sessions, workshops and networking opportunities designed to ignite inspiration and drive growth within our industry. Beyond the excitement and fervour of this event, we must also reflect on our responsibilities as custodians of nature’s wonders”.
Later that day, Sh. Arvind Singh, IAS spoke about ‘Vision for India Adventure by Former Secretary Tourism, Govt of India and Chairman AAI’. Other topics which were discussed included ‘Marketing & Technology For a leaner business model’ and ‘AI-Driven Digital Marketing & Branding Strategies for Adventure Tour Operators’.