The 37th IATO Annual Convention held in Lucknow in December 2022 was a great initiative to put the Uttar Pradesh’s tourism potential on the tourism map. Held after 26 years in the state of UP, the convention welcomed over 800 delegates from pan India. The Convention also witnessed brainstorming sessions to explore the possibilities of strengthening India’s inbound tourism sector.
The inaugural session of the Convention saw the presence of Asim Arun, Minister for Social welfare, Govt. of Uttar Pradesh; Ashwini Kumar Patra, Minister of Tourism, Govt. of Odisha; Arvind Singh, Union Tourism Secretary, Mukesh Kumar Meshram, Principal Secretary & DG – Tourism, Govt. of Uttar Pradesh, Rajiv Mehra, President, Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO), Senior office bearers of IATO along with along with leaders from all segments of the industry.
Mehra, in his presidential speech, thanked the Union Ministry of Tourism and the Govt. of UP for their support to organize the Convention in Lucknow. Elaborating the theme, Inbound Tourism – What Lies Ahead! He spoke on the measures to be taken for the growth of inbound tourism and sought the support of the Union Tourism Ministry on marketing and promotional front.
Arun addressed the delegates and talked about the new infrastructure being created in the state. Patra talked about the various initiatives taken by the Govt of Odisha to promote tourism.
Addressing the gathering, Meshram said: “Uttar Pradesh is fast emerging as an internationally and domestically known destination. After 26 years, Lucknow has bagged the occasion to host this event. The state has 3 UNESCO world heritage sites: Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri, and Agra Fort, besides several ancient, religious, heritage and tourism sites of international importance such as Ayodha, Varanasi, Sarnath, and other sites such as Mathura, Vrindavan,” Meshram said and added Uttar Pradesh is the biggest spiritual tourism destination, and that is why we have developed Kashi Vishwanath in a big way. “Earlier we used to get 1 million tourists per month visiting Kashi Vishwanath. Now, we are on an average 4 million tourists visiting Kashi per month,” Mehsram informed.
He further informed that UP will be hosting MahaKumbh after 144 years in 2025. “We are expecting 40 crore visitors in 2025 to visit MahaKumbh. This is the potential of Uttar Pradesh. Our vision is to transform UP into a global and responsible tourism destination while ensuring best visitor experiences along with ample opportunities and prosperity for all. The guiding principles of the roadmap for the next 5 years, is based on the ‘7S’ – Suchna (Awareness), Swagat (Welcome), Suvidha (Amenities), Suraksha (Safety), Swachata (Cleanliness), Sanrachana (Infrastructure), and Sahyog (Support). With this ‘7S’ principles, we will certainly make Uttar Pradesh a global tourist destination,” he informed.
Recently, the Department of Tourism, UP has come up with a New Tourism Policy2022. “It’s an attractive policy and can accommodate all sorts of amenities. Stakeholders, like if any tour operator, comes to us saying he wants to participate in international or national convention or travel marts, we will provide financial support,” he added.
Union Tourism Secretary Singh said that tourism creates special opportunities, especially for women and youth, contributes to socio-economic development and plays a role in building bridges between societies, and benefits visitors, and various local communities. “Recognizing that revival is based on the domestic tourism, we launched the domestic campaign called ‘Dekho Apna Desh’. More than 150 webinars have been hosted and this has helped generate interest among states. Other initiatives such as Sarathi, the Nidhi portal and all of these have helped create confidence about our ability to deliver during the COVID. The key emphasis going ahead will be on sustainability, a shift to renewable resources, job creation, and encouraging green and sustainable tourism practices for accelerating the process of recovery. And, in order to promote tourism for the future, we will encourage measures that can shape a more resilient, sustainable, and inclusive tourism sector. This will accelerate its recovery and development on sustainable lines,” he added.
He further said that the Presidency of the G20 that we have started from December 1, 2022, is a great opportunity to showcase our country. “More than 200 meetings will be held in 55 destinations and already 2 meetings have been held. The first one was the kickoff meeting, which was the Sherpa’s meeting at Udaipur, the second one is Mumbai. In the tourism track, we’ll be holding 4 working group meetings and a ministerial meeting. We’ll try and spread them across the length and breadth of the country. This is an opportunity where most of you would be involved,” Singh said.
At the end of the inauguration, IATO Hall of Fame of Awards were accorded to Sunil Gupta, MD, Travel Bureau and Late Badri Bajaj, Founder, Perfect Travels & Tours for their contribution to the tourism industry.