The second tourism track meeting under India’s G20 Presidency – to be held in West Bengal’s Siliguri and Darjeeling in the first week of April – will focus on the potential of adventure tourism. The first Tourism Working Group meeting held at Gujarat’s Rann of Kutch last month focused on archaeological and rural tourism.
“The five priority areas – green tourism, digitalisation, skills, tourism MSMEs and destination management – were introduced by India in the working session and were endorsed by all G20 members, invitee countries and international organisations,” Union Tourism Secretary Arvind Singh told The Indian Express, adding that all the delegates gave positive feedback.
The second Tourism Working Group meeting will be held from April 1 to 3 during which the delegates will discuss deeper and broader aspects of the five priorities of the group, he said. The first meet offered a tour of the Harappan site of Dholavira, keeping with the archaeological tourism theme, the second meet includes a day-long tour of Darjeeling, officials said.
With a presentation from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation and interventions by G20 troika (India, Indonesia and Brazil), the working session is aimed at finalising the first draft outcome, officials say. The draft will be factored in during the tourism track ministerial, to be held in Goa in July, and later, the G20 Summit in Delhi this September, Singh said.
The main attraction will be the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, also known as ‘Toy Train Ride’, which will start from Ghum, India’s highest railway station at an altitude of 2,258 metres, to Batasia Loop, which offers a view of the Kanchenjunga peak, officials say. The delegates will also be taken for tea-tasting and moonlight tea leaf plucking experience to promote the Darjeeling tea brand, which was given the first GI protection in India in 2004. They will also visit Raj Bhavan, the summer residence of the Governor of West Bengal.
The highlight of the three-day event will be a display of Himalayan Mountaineering Institute products and an exhibition to promote sustainable practices under adventure tourism at Darjeeling’s Mall Road.
Singh said the tourism ministry is hosting a side event on ‘adventure tourism as a vehicle for achieving sustainable development goals’, which will also see participation from office-bearers of Adventure Tour Operators Association of India. A full-day event has been organised for domestic stakeholders and state governments to deliberate on ways to augment adventure tourism in India, he added.
The delegates will also be presented a range of one-district-one-product. It includes a set of wooden owl from Burdwan district, a set of handkerchiefs from Malda, a dhokra fish hook from Bankura and attar (perfume) from Kalimpong.
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