Tourism in India should be a three trillion dollar economy by 2047”- Shri Arvind Singh, Former Secretary, Ministry of Tourism
Ekta Nagar (Gujarat) [India], December 20: In the lead up to the upcoming Vibrant Gujarat Summit 2024, 15th Annual Adventure Tourism Convention 2023 was organized by the Adventure Tour Operators Association of India supported by the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat at Statue of Unity, Ekta Nagar concluded successfully. The convention witnessed participation from key senior government officials from the center and various states, industry leaders, experts, tour operators and practitioners from across the globe.
The convention has set the direction for India to be amongst the top 10 global destinations for Adventure Tourism. The event was inaugurated by ATOAI president Ajeet Bajaj’s welcome address. During the convention, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, Shri Pema Khandu, accompanied by the Hon’ble Minister of Tourism, Shri Mulabhai Bera, explored the various stalls set up at the ATOAI Convention. Subsequently, they visited the Statue of Unity and Aarogaya Van. During this visit, he expressed appreciation for the diverse tourism and infrastructure facilities being developed by the state government, aiming to enhance the tourist experience in Gujarat, making it both memorable and convenient. Furthermore, he lauded several initiatives undertaken by the Gujarat government to foster the growth of the tourism sector including the Tourism Policy 2021-25, Heritage Tourism Policy, Homestay Policy, and Cinematic Tourism Policy. Reflecting on the warm hospitality experienced at the Statue of Unity, he remarked that the people of Gujarat truly exemplify the spirit of Atithi Devo Bhava and concluded by stating that a trip to Gujarat is consistently delightful.
Additionally, Secretary Tourism, Government of Gujarat, Shri Hareet Shukla, shed light on the immense growth in the tourism sector of Gujarat, the minister shared that, “under the visionary leadership of the Hon’ble Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi and Hon’ble Chief Minister Shri Bhupendrabhai Patel, Gujarat has seen tremendous development in the sector of infrastructure, tourism and hospitality over the last few years. He further remarked that “Gujarat is one of the first choices among foreign tourists. Over the years especially after the development of the Statue of Unity, Gujarat has witnessed a significant increase in the tourist footfall. The state is immensely policy driven, and major efforts are being put into enhancing the policies and making them friendly for all. The benefits of these friendly policies are evident through the tremendous growth that these sectors are witnessing.” He concluded his speech by applauding the efforts made by Gujarat and said, “We are happy to host you in Gujarat and want your business to help adventure enthusiasts spend time in Gujarat and help boost the state and make it progress within the country.”
Milind Soman, Indian Supermodel, Actor, and Fitness Enthusiast known for his remarkable career in fashion industry and his advocacy for a healthy lifestyle. He is celebrated for his passion for fitness having participated in numerous marathons and promoting wellness through his adventures was also present at the convention where he delivered a special address to the audience. During his address he praised the various developments that have taken place in Gujarat, applauded the state for its friendly policies and for promoting a sustainable and eco-friendly adventure tourism in the region and inspiring others to do the same.
The event witnessed a global interest and participation, renowned Australian Olympic Coach, Mike Druce also delivered an address the first day of the gathering, wherein he shared his experiences and dos and don’ts from mega hiking trails in the world as well as in India.
Various keynote speakers expressed their views and strategies on how India can become a global tourism hub in the coming few years, as it has a lot of untapped potential, and various untapped locations which can put India among the Top Adventure Tourism destinations in the world.
While addressing the gathering, Former Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Shri Arvid Singh, shared that “During the Covid-19 pandemic, the tourism industry was one of the badly affected industries, but post-pandemic we witnessed a significant recovery in the tourism sector.”
He added, “Currently India’s tourism sector is in a sweet spot and is ready to take off because all indicators point towards a positive outcome,the Indian tourism sector has huge growth potential.” He further highlighted that tourism in India should be a three trillion dollar economy by 2047. He also remarked on commendable work of the Gujarat Government in the sector and especially in Ekta Nagar with the establishment of the Statue of Unity it has not only increased the tourist footfall in the region but has also benefited the local community by creating several job opportunities in the region.
On the final day of the event, the welcome address was delivered by the Founder, President of ATOAI, Captain Swadesh Kumar followed by various presentations on topics such as ‘ATOAI- Leading the way with carbon negative event’ by ATAOI President, Padma Shri Ajeet Baja and Jaideep Bansal, IIT Bombay, ‘Preserving the USP while managing risk’ by Mr Shantanu Pandit, Consultant, Experience Knowledge Outdoors (EKO), and ‘Decoding the Jargon’ by Ms Soity Banerjee, Project Editor, Responsible Tourism, along with various knowledge sharing sessions took place.
The convention also set a new benchmark by achieving carbon neutrality. The convention not only implemented sustainable and eco-friendly practices throughout the event but also hosted knowledge sharing sessions for its participants about the relevance of sustainable tourism.
For achieving carbon neutrality, various key sustainable initiatives were implemented, such as the Zero Plastic Waste policy, wherein, a strict no-plastic waste policy was implemented resulting in 15,000 plastic bottles being eliminated, Efficient Energy Consumption was practiced by enabling the event in minimizing the carbon footprint wherever possible. The event saw 68% reduction in energy usage. Additionally, Seed Papers for Badges and Luggage Tags were used providing a sustainable alternative and enabling participants to plant their badges. Furthermore, 2000 sheets of paper were saved by going digital on providing information material along with the itinerary. ATOAI also emphasized on Reducing Food Wastage by displaying the amount of food wasted after each meal and encouraging participants to minimize food waste during meals, promoting conscious consumption. To reduce food packaging waste, plastic sachets for butter, jam, and sugar were eliminated.
During the two-days of the event various MoUs to build capacities for knowledge-sharing on Adventure Tourism and MoU’s worth Rs. 770 cr were signed towards Film Shooting, and Infrastructure development. To facilitate ease of information a website for Adventure Tourism in India was also launched on the concluding day.
Ahead of the convention, ATOAI also organized two FAM trips with Tour Operators from all over India in North Gujarat and Saurashtra region exploring the possibilities of adventure tourism in Gujarat. They received an overwhelming feedback from the visiting partners as they were highly impressed by the developments that have taken place and the immense potential of Gujarat for adventure tourism.
Throughout the convention deliberations on promoting sustainable tourism, exploring untapped locations in the country, knowledge sharing and networking sessions were held. While discussing various locations in the country, Gujarat was a constant example used by all participants, as the state of Gujarat has set a strong example by promoting various untapped locations in the region, becoming a prominent place on the global map by conducting prestigious international events and meeting such as the G20 at Rann of Kutch and at Statue of unity. The discussions on unlocking Gujarat’s potential to be a leader for Adventure Tourism in India took place and the state government assured that in close collaboration with ATOAI, it will be carefully growing this industry, practicing and adopting all right and sustainable ways.
In light of the industry’s rapid growth, the convention provided a platform to discuss new trends, launched a toolkit to implement the regulatory system and roadmap for the development of adventure tourism in the state, Adopt ATOAI guidelines, recognized by the Ministry of Tourism for safety measures, and discussed ways to enhance offerings while adhering to a ‘leave no trace’ ethos.
To offset emissions of the entire event, ATOAI collaborated with Gujarat Tourism and the Forest Department of Gujarat and to plant 200 saplings near the event area which the forest department will maintain for the next 15 years.
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