The COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges posed by it have highlighted the importance of developing resilient practices in the tourism industry, Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said at the inaugural session of the fourth G20 Tourism Working Group Meeting in the state on Tuesday.
He also said the meeting would ensure the shaping of a roadmap for sustainable tourism and promoting international cooperation. At the end of the fourth and final Tourism Working Group Meeting and the G20 Tourism Ministerial Meeting that follows, a Goa Roadmap and Action Plan and a ministerial communique endorsing it will be issued.
Emphasising on the moniker of Goa as the "Pearl of the Orient", Sawant urged the delegates to use the platform to "forge alliances, share best practices and collectively work towards a future where our global family can thrive together".
The Goa chief minister spoke on reinventing tourism in the state after the pandemic which had a disastrous effect on the sector with flights grounded, and hotels and other establishments of the hospitality industry coming to a grinding halt.
"The COVID-19 pandemic, amidst all the challenges, has highlighted the importance of developing resilient practices in the tourism industry. Goa, being the first state in India to receive the global Safe Travel stamp from the WTTCII, was committed to reinventing its tourism sector after the pandemic in a more responsible manner," Sawant said.
The World Travel and Tourism Council, India Initiative (WTTCII), was launched in February 2000 to raise awareness about the role travel and tourism play in the development and growth of the economy in the country.
The Goa chief minister said good governance was the cornerstone of a successful nation and "India has demonstrated its unwavering commitment to effective governance through strong leadership and visionary policies".
He shared the dais with Union Tourism Minister G Kishan Reddy, Union Minister of State for Tourism and Ports, Shipping and Waterways S Y Naik, Union Minister of State for Defence and Tourism Ajay Bhatt.
Under the guidance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the unwavering support of G Kishan Reddy, "the collaborative efforts of the governments in Goa and at the Centre have laid the foundation for a conducive environment for the citizens to foster growth, innovation and sustainable development," Sawant said.
He emphasised that through collaborative efforts aimed at promoting sustainable tourism practices to ensure that rich natural resources and the environment are preserved for generations to come, Goa has been "instrumental in developing tourism infrastructure for private investors to enhance the tourism offerings, in turn benefiting tourists".
Moreover, the state has been instrumental in developing a "forward-looking Tourism Master Plan to enable the strategic and sustainable development of the tourism industry," Sawant added.
Stressing the importance of sustainability as a key aspect of the tourism sector, he said, "We actively engage in conservation efforts to protect our natural resources, including our beaches, forests, and wildlife sanctuaries. We encourage eco-friendly practices among our hospitality industry, promote waste management initiatives, and educate tourists about the importance of preserving our environment."
Goa also has been introducing new tourism services such as e-bicycle tours, hanging and floating restaurants, adventure activities like bungee jumping, showcasing the freedom struggle at the Marque Aguada Lower Fort Central Jail, spiritual tours and various experiential tours, Sawant said.
-With PTI Input