The UK government is looking forward to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's visit to New Delhi in September for the G20 summit, a British minister has said.
UK's Minister of State for Media, Tourism and Creative Industries, Sir John Whittingdale, who was in Goa for the G20 Tourism Ministerial meeting that concluded on June 22, also said India is doing a "fantastic job" in chairing the influential bloc.
India assumed the G20 presidency on December 1, 2022. About 200 meetings under different tracks of the bloc will be hosted across the country, culminating in the September 9-10 Summit.
When asked about India's role so far as the chair of the G20, the UK minister praised the country and also also talked about some of the global challenges that the whole of humanity faces.
"I think India is doing a fantastic job. The meetings we have had here (in Goa), have been wonderfully organised. I know some of my other colleagues in the government have been attending meetings elsewhere. And of course, we are looking forward to the visit of our prime minister to India later in the year," Whittingdale told PTI in an interview in Goa.
Sunak will be in India to attend the G20 Summit, he said.
The Conservative MP representing Maldon attended the G20 Tourism Ministerial Meeting on June 21 that took place following the G20 Tourism Working Group Meeting from June 19-20 in Goa.
India held several bilateral meetings with various member and guest countries of the G20 on the sidelines of the two crucial tourism track events in Panaji.
India's Minister of State for Tourism S Y Naik also held a bilateral talk with Whittingdale and termed it a "good meeting".
Asked about his experiences at the G20 Tourism Ministerial meeting in the Goan capital, Whittingdale said, "It has been amazing. Goa is doing a wonderful job in hosting the G20 (meets). We had a very constructive discussion (on June 21) about the challenges facing tourism."
A Goa Roadmap and Action Plan, and a ministerial outcome document later came out at the end of the G20 ministerial meeting.
Five inter-related key priorities of the G20 tourism track, including green tourism, digitalisation and destination management, were "endorsed by all G20 countries" for achieving sustainable, resilient and inclusive growth in the sector, officials said on June 21.
About 130 delegates from countries such as the US, the UK, Spain, South Africa, Russia, Mauritius, Australia, Singapore, South Korea, Indonesia, Canada, Mexico, Nigeria, Oman, the Netherlands, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and top international organisations took part in the ministerial meeting.
Asked about the outcomes from the ministerial meeting in Goa, Whittingdale said making tourism sector more sustainable and resilient, while reducing carbon footprint is the way forward.
"The general approach to the Indian Presidency -- One Earth. One Family. One Future -- absolutely sums up challenges we will face. Things like sustainable transport is very much part of that, so there was a general agreement (in the meeting) that all the countries look to try and reduce our carbon emissions, to preserve the environment, and technology will help in doing that as well," he said.
After the conclusion of the ministerial meeting, a group of G20 delegates on June 22 had visited the historic Basilica of Bom Jesus in Old Goa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that also holds the holy relics of St. Francis Xavier.
The delegates later also visited Museum of Christian Art (MoCA) and a Portuguese-era mansion built in 1590 where a grand luncheon was hosted for them, as the G20 Tourism Ministerial Meeting concluded "successfully" in Goa.
After the meeting, it is a "wonderful opportunity to see some of the heritage beauty of Goa, so I am really delighted to be here," Whittingdale said, soon after visiting the church.
He was given a guided tour of the historic church by Fr. Patricio Fernandes, who also shared how the mortal remains of the holy saint, was moved from different places in the world, to finally rest in Goa.
"And, to be shown around the Basilica of Bom Jesus, and to hear about the history of the relics of St. Francis Xavier, all that is hugely memorable, a great privilege to be able to see," he said.
Whittingdale and other delegates later also visited the historic Mangeshi Temple in Ponda, where they also attended an 'aarti', and ended the heritage tour of Goa with a grand lunch at Figueiredo Mansion, a building from the Portuguese era whose oldest part was constructed in 1590.
"Catholic churches have certain similarities, but what is interesting about this one (Basilica of Bom Jesus), and all we have seen in this museum (MoCA), is Indian influence on traditional Christian sculptures and works... you could see the Indian artists' cultures had crept in, and that's a fascinating combination," the UK minister said.
Asked how G20 nations can work together for preservation of heritage, he said, "I think it's terribly important, each country has its own very special history, and its wonderful monuments, and Goa is no exception. But, indeed, it is very important for the whole of humanity that we preserve those and allow future generations to enjoy them in the way, we can today".
"So, that's very much one of the very big challenges facing tourism in future, and one of the issues that we have been discussing," Whittingdale added.