Newdelhi:231/6/23:The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi addressed the G20 Tourism Ministers’ Meet held in Goa via video message today.
Addressing the gathering, the Prime Minister invoked the spirit of Incredible India and said that the tourism ministers rarely get a chance to be tourists themselves even though they are handling a sector worth over two trillion dollars globally. Noting that the G20 Tourism Ministers’ Meet is taking place in Goa, one of the major tourist attractions in India, the Prime Minister urged the dignitaries to take out some time from their serious discussions and explore the natural beauty and the spiritual side of Goa.
The Prime Minister said that India’s approach to tourism is based on the ancient Sanskrit verse ‘Atithi Devo Bhavah’ which means ‘Guest is God’. Shri Modi emphasized that tourism is not just about sightseeing but it is an immersive experience. “Be it Music or Food, Arts or Culture, the diversity of India is truly majestic”, the Prime Minister continued, “From the high Himalayas to dense forests, dry deserts to beautiful beaches, adventure sports to meditation retreats, India has something for everyone.” The Prime Minister informed that India during its G-20 presidency is organizing nearly 200 meetings in 100 different locations all over the country making every experience different from the other. “If you ask your friends who have already visited India for these meetings, I am sure that no two experiences will be alike”, he added.
The Prime Minister underlined that India’s efforts in the tourism sector are centered on preserving its rich heritage while creating a world-class infrastructure for tourism. Noting that India attracts pilgrims of every major religion of the world, the Prime Minister emphasized the development of spiritual tourism as one of the focus areas. He informed that the infrastructure upgrade in the eternal city of Varanasi, one of the major spiritual centers, led to a ten-fold increase in pilgrims taking the number to 70 million today. He also underlined that India is creating new tourist attractions and gave the example of the Statue of Unity, the tallest statue in the world, which attracted about 2.7 million tourists within a year of its inauguration. In the last nine years, the Prime Minister said, we have placed special emphasis on developing the entire ecosystem of tourism in the country. “From transport infrastructure to the hospitality sector to skill development, and even in our visa systems, we have kept the tourism sector as a focal point of our reforms”, Shri Modi said. He highlighted that the hospitality sector has great potential for employment generation, social inclusion and economic progress while employing more women and youth compared to the other sectors. The Prime Minister expressed happiness that India is also recognizing the relevance of the tourism sector for the speedy achievement of Sustainable Development Goals.
The Prime Minister highlighted that the five inter-connected priority areas of Green Tourism, Digitalization, Skill Development, Tourism MSMEs, and Destination Management reflect the priorities of India as well as the Global South. Shri Modi suggested greater use of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and augmented reality to drive innovation and highlighted that India is working towards artificial intelligence enabling real-time translation of various languages spoken in the country. He expressed confidence that collaboration among governments, entrepreneurs, investors and academia can accelerate such technological implementation in the tourism sector. The Prime Minister also suggested working together to ease business regulations for tourism companies and assist them in increasing their access to finances and investing in skill development.
“Terrorism divides but Tourism unites”, the Prime Minister remarked. He said that tourism has the potential to unite people from all walks of life thereby creating a harmonious society. Shri Modi expressed happiness that a G20 Tourism dashboard is being developed in partnership with UNWTO which will be a first-of-its-kind platform bringing together best practices, case studies and inspiring stories. The Prime Minister expressed confidence that the deliberations and the ‘Goa Roadmap’ would multiply the collective efforts to realize tourism’s transformative power. “The motto of India’s G20 Presidency, ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ – ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’ can itself be a motto for global tourism”, he added.
The Prime Minister highlighted the upcoming Sao Joao Festival in Goa and said that India is a land of festivals. Referring to the General Elections to be held next year, the Prime Minister urged the dignitaries to witness the festival of democracy in the mother of democracy where nearly a billion voters will be taking part for over a month re-affirming their abiding faith in democratic values. “With more than a million voting booths, there will be no shortage of places for you to witness this festival in all its diversity”, the Prime Minister said. He concluded the address by extending an invitation to visit India during the festival of democracy.