Preparations are in full swing in West Bengal's Darjeeling district for the 2nd Tourism Working Group Meeting of G20, which will begin on April 1, officials said on Sunday.
At the first meeting held in Gujarat's Kachchh in February, five priorities were identified for the sector -- green tourism, digitalisation, skills, tourism MSMEs and destination management. At the second meeting in Darjeeling, representatives of G20 countries, invitee nations and international organisations will be discussing deeper aspects of the five priorities, they said.
The Tourism Ministry will also host a side event on 'adventure tourism as a vehicle for achieving Sustainable Development Goals'. All the Northeastern states will make presentations at the event, they added.
A full-day programme has also been organised for the domestic tourism industry, and the states to deliberate on adventure tourism, officials said. The delegates will be staying at a resort in New Chumta Tea Garden in Siliguri, where all the major functions will be held, they said.
The resort is being decked up for the event, and preparations are underway for presenting the delegates with cultural performances, said Mayfair Tea Resort's general manager Bikash Pradhan. The international delegates will be able to witness West Bengal's art and culture during the three-day programme, he said.
On the first day, the delegates will be taken to the Makaibari Tea Garden in Kurseong for witnessing moonlight tea-plucking, officials said. Union Tourism Minister G Kishan Reddy, Tourism Secretary Arvind Singh and Union MoS for Minority Affairs John Barla will address the gathering on the second day, April 2, they said.
Representatives of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) will brief the gathering later that day, besides presentations by G20 member countries, international organisations and invitee nations.
Italy, Turkiye, Saudi Arabia, Australia and Indonesia will make presentations on the five priorities identified by the G20, officials said. The delegates will be visiting Ghum on April 3, and take a ride on the iconic Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, a UNESCO world heritage site. The ride will be from Ghum, India's highest railway station located at an altitude of 2,258 meters, to Batasia Loop.
They will also be visiting the British-era Raj Bhavan in Darjeeling, which now serves as the summer residence of the governor of West Bengal. After having lunch at the Durbar Hall, the delegates will be going to the Darjeeling Chowrasta where a cultural programme and an exhibition of art and craft are being organised, officials said.
A three-day exhibition will be opened for the public from April at Mall Road to increase awareness about India's G20 presidency and promotion of sustainable practices under adventure tourism, they said.
Souvenirs curated from various parts of West Bengal under the 'One District One Product' scheme will be showcased during the event. These are wooden owls from Bardhaman, a set of three handkerchiefs from Malda, dokra hooks from Bankura, 'attar in wooden box' from Kalimpong.
Welcoming the delegates, Himalayan Hospitality and Tourism Development Network's general secretary Samrat Sanyal said Siliguri and Darjeeling are known for their hospitality.