At the tourism ministers’ conference in Varanasi on Friday, India proposed a strategy to make 2023 the year of tourist development in the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) region. While China’s Deputy Minister of Culture and Tourism, Lu Ying Chuan, was physically there, representatives from Russia and Pakistan joined the conference remotely, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Tourism on Friday.
Union Tourism Minister G Kishan Reddy presided over the meeting, which was attended by Yerzhan Yerkinbayev, Kazakhstan’s Vice-Minister of Culture and Sports; Samat Bekturovich Shatmanov, Kyrgyzstan’s Deputy Minister of Culture; and Azamov Ulugbek Axmatovich, Uzbekistan’s First Deputy Minister of Culture and Tourism; as well as Vladimir Evgenyvich Ily.
According to the statement, the meeting was also attended by top officials from tourism departments from SCO member nations and representatives from the SCO Secretariat, Ministry of Tourism, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
At the end of the meeting, a common action plan for executing the Member States’ agreement on tourism cooperation was finalised and agreed upon. It includes the marketing of the SCO tourist brand, the promotion of member countries’ cultural assets, the sharing of information and digital technologies in tourism, and the promotion of mutual collaboration in medical and health tourism.
The member countries will also collaborate on several initiatives, including the SCO tourist exposition, the SCO Food Festival, tourism webinars and seminars, a conference, and expert sessions on regional tourism marketing.
The summit also endorsed the Action Plan for ‘Year of Tourism Development in the SCO Space in 2023’. The document includes several programmes and events designed to promote and highlight the tourism offerings of SCO member countries. The summit was preceded by two expert working group sessions held under India’s chairmanship – the first online in January and the second in person on March 14-15 in Varanasi, according to the ministry.
Kashi has been designated as the SCO’s first tourism and cultural hub. Authorities hope the honour will boost the city’s visibility on the worldwide tourist map. According to them, the project will showcase Kashi’s spiritual, mystic, and knowledge characteristics. The SCO Heads of Tourism Administrations will meet again in Kazakhstan in 2024.
India held four bilateral discussions on the margins with China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan.