Culture, Tourism Min co-chairs ASEAN-India tourism ministers meet

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New Delhi, Feb 5 (PTI) Union Minister of State for Culture and Tourism, Prahlad Singh Patel co-chaired the 8th Meeting of ASEAN-India Tourism Ministers with his Cambodian counterpart Dr Thong Khon through video conferencing on Friday, a statement from the ministry said.

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.

Patel appreciated the efforts of the Prime Minister for not only containing the COVID-19 pandemic but also lending a helping hand to other countries by supplying medicines and medical equipments.

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 the Ministry of Tourism has substantially invested 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.

Patel talked about 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 and easy medical visa process.

He 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, the minister said.

He expressed satisfaction over the deliberations and said he looked forward to strengthening the 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. PTI ASG RDM RDM