The Group of 20 (G20) is an intergovernmental forum that comprises 19 countries and the European Union (EU). The group was formed in 1999, but since 2008 it has convened every year with the participation of each member’s head of government or state, finance minister, foreign minister, and other high-ranking officials. The group works to address major global issues such as global economic issues, affordable and accessible healthcare, technological advancements, climate change, sustainable development, financial stability, etc.
The eighteenth meeting of the G20 was held in India, the first ever to be held in India and South Asia, with its presidency under Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi under the theme “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” or “One Earth · One Family. One Future”.
The G20 also holds ministerial-level meetings on various topics such as finance, trade, agriculture, healthcare, technology advancements, health, energy, etc. In addition to this, the group also has Working Groups, which are specialized task forces focusing on specific areas of interest. These working groups involve the participation of various experts and officials to deliberate on issues, exchange knowledge, and develop recommendations.
G-20 Tourism Meet in Kashmir
One of the Working Groups- the Tourism Working Group, holds discussions and deliberations and works to accelerate the transition of the tourism sector to achieve sustainable development goals and the G20 Tourism Minister’s Declaration.
The Tourism Working Group held its 3rd meeting in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, from 22nd to 24th May 2023. The agenda of the 3rd Tourism Meeting was to work on five interconnected priority areas, which includes green tourism, digitalization, skills, MSMEs, and destination.
A side event on ‘Film Tourism for Economic Growth and Cultural Preservation’ was also organized on 22nd May 2023, which focused on strategies to harness the role of films in promoting tourist destinations. A national-level side event was also organized along with FICCI, which focused on ‘Promoting Incredible India through Film Tourism’. This event allowed states and union territories to share their laws, policies, and practices in film tourism. Another side event, along with CII, on ‘Ecotourism as a Vehicle to Achieve Sustainable Development Goal’ was also organized to explore effective strategies, best practices, and synergy between the public and private sectors to accelerate efforts towards sustainable development goals.
What does it mean for Kashmir?
This meeting and event presented a unique opportunity for India to highlight the tourism potential and cultural richness of Kashmir. The Working Group’s meeting will also enable film producers to reverse the trend of shooting memorable films in the serene and picturesque landscape of Kashmir. The films create a strong impact on people, drive tourism in the region, and, educate the masses about real culture and hidden places, and showcase the rich beauty of the region. This would also provide an opportunity for the Kashmiri youth to gain long-term employment opportunities, business benefits, and thereby, revenue generation.
The visiting delegates of the Working Group were also given the opportunity to experience the local attractions. They saw Kashmir’s old Mughal Gardens, the Pari Mahal, and the newly renovated Polo View Market. They were also taken for sightseeing to the Art and Craft Bazaar organized by the State Government showcasing local handicrafts and the work of artisans, wherein these delegates held hands-on experience through DIY activities like Kashmir paper mache, Basholi paintings, willow crafts, embroidery, pashmina weaving, and the experienced making of local handicrafts, etc. The delegates also saw GI-tagged local handicrafts. Cultural nights were also organized in collaboration with the state government.
They were also provided local products of Jammu and Kashmir as souvenirs, such as paper mache boxes; saffron from Pampore, Kawa cups, and Brass Spoon and Walnuts from Anantnag, Shopian, and Kupwara.
All these moves will promote tourism in the Kashmir Valley. It will not only boost film tourism, but also household tourism, hotel tourism, and hut tourism, as well as drive home tourists to the valley.
The successful hosting of the G20 event in Kashmir was a huge geopolitical move by India. It showcases the beauty of Kashmir and spreads the message of peace prevailing in the region throughout the world. The participation of almost all member countries in the event marked its success. The participation of delegates in Kashmir’s Tourism Working Group meeting was the highest compared to the other meetings organized.
Overall, the summit was a major geopolitical success for India and would undoubtedly raise the profile of Kashmir and India.