The working group meeting was preceded by a Side Event on the evening of 7th February on the theme, ‘Rural Tourism for Community Empowerment and Poverty Alleviation’. At the panel discussion panelists gave presentations and held discussions highlighting the best practices, success stories, prospects, and issues in the field of Rural tourism. At a separate event, Shri Miya Hussain Gul Beg, Head of Dhordo Village (Sarpanch) highlighted the positive impact of the development of tourism infrastructure and tourism promotion activities like Rann Utsav on the village economy and creation of job opportunities in the area. The inaugural session was graced by the Chief Minister of Gujarat Sh. Bhupendra Bhai Patel, Minister of Tourism, Culture and DONER Sh. G. Kishan Reddy; and the Union Minister Shri Parshottam Rupala, Minister for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying.
At the inaugural session, the Indian dignitaries shared their views on Indian tourist destinations, steps taken by government to promote tourism, safety of tourists, digitisation in the tourism sector and the impact of tourism on the local economy and employment.
During the working group meeting, discussions were held on the Indian Presidency identified five priority themes including Green Tourism: “Greening of tourism sector for a sustainable, responsible and resilient tourism sector”; Digitalization: “Harnessing the power of digitalization to promote competitiveness, inclusion and sustainability in tourism sector”; Skills: “Empowering youth with skills for jobs and entrepreneurship in tourism sector”; Tourism MSMEs: “Nurturing tourism MSMEs / Startups/ private sector to unleash innovation and dynamism in tourism sector” and Destination Management: “Rethinking the strategic management of destinations towards a holistic approach that delivers on the SDGs”. All the 5 key priority areas set for the deliberations were endorsed by all G20 Members, Guest countries and International organisations.
On the last day of the working group meeting, a second side event was organised on the theme, ‘Promotion of Archaeological Tourism: Discovering shared Cultural Heritage’. Speakers at the panel discussion shared their views on conservation of Archaeological sites and challenges faced at such sites. They also highlighted the benefits of promoting archaeological tourism for empowerment and sustainable livelihoods of local communities. In his concluding remarks, Secretary, Tourism Shri Arvind Singh said that Archaeological tourism can provide socio economic development of local communities in a sustainable manner.
During their stay at Dhordo Tent City, the delegates had an opportunity to attend a Yoga session at sunrise at White Rann. The delegates also visited the Harappan Site of Dholavira, a UNESCO World heritage site where delegates were briefed about the effective and efficient water management at Dholavira. The delegates were also familiarized with the local Kutchi art and traditions. They also enthusiastically joined the folk artists in a dance permanence during a cultural evening.
Before their departure, the delegates also paid a visit to the state-of-the-art Smritivan Earthquake Memorial Museum in Bhuj.
Going forward, the Tourism Working Group will reconvene for three more meetings including a Ministerial which will take place in Goa. A Ministerial Level Communique and the Goa Roadmap for Tourism as vehicle for achieving Sustainable Development Goals are the planned deliverables.
In addition to the four G20 meetings of G20 Tourism track, three mega events are also planned to promote tourism during the period of India’s G20 Presidency. The Ministry of Tourism will be organizing the first Global Tourism Investors’ Summit (GTIS) in April/May in New Delhi; MICE Global Conference in May; and G20 Tourism CEO Forum in June.