The Union Minister of State for Culture & Tourism, Shri Prahlad Singh Patel co-chaired the 8th Meeting of ASEAN-India Tourism Ministers meeting with Minister of Tourism of CambodiaH.E. Dr. Thong Khon through video conferencing today. The Meeting was in conjunction with the 24th Meeting of ASEAN Tourism Ministers (M-ATM).
At the outset, the Ministers expressed their sympathy for the loss of lives and livelihood for people in the region as a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic. The Ministers reiterated the need for cooperative efforts in mitigating the impact of the pandemic on the tourism sector.
Shri Prahlad Singh Patel appreciated the efforts of the Prime Minister for not only containing COVID-19 pandemic but also lending a helping hand to other countries by supplying of medicines and medical equipments.
Shri Patel highlighted India’s historical and cultural links with ASEAN countries and reiterated that ASEAN is a key market for Buddhist Tourism in India which generates major tourist traffic for the Buddhist Circuit and Ministry of Tourism has invested in a major way to upgrade infrastructure in the circuit. The Ministry of Tourism, organises the International Buddhist Conclave (IBC) to create awareness about India’s Buddhist Heritage and to increase foreign tourist traffic to Buddhist sites and invited the ASEAN member countries to participate in the same as and when held.
Shri Patel added that the importance of wellness and Medical tourism and emphasized that India is emerging as a preferred country for medical treatments due to advanced quality healthcare, affordable costs, lesser waiting time & easy medical visa process.
Minister also touched upon the Ministry’s road map to revive tourism activities post Covid by highlighting initiatives such as SAATHI (System for Assessment, Awareness & Training for Hospitality Industry) and the Incredible India Tourist Facilitator (IITF) Certification Programme, an Online learning platform with the objective of creating a pool of well trained and professional Tourist Facilitators across the country. The initiative by Ministry of Tourism to organize a series of webinars under the theme Dekho Apna Desh to showcase the diverse culture, heritage, undiscovered destinations and unusual facets of popular tourist spots has become very popular.
Minister expressed satisfaction over the deliberations and look forward to strengthen ASEAN-India partnership and cooperation in tourism. The meeting concluded with a Joint Media statement where the Ministers agreed to further enhance ASEAN-India cooperation in tourism under the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding between ASEAN and India.