The world we live in is a digitally connected family, and Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, the central slogan of India’s G20 presidency, aptly describes this concept. This unique perspective opens up new frontiers of international cooperation, and the unprecedented power of tourism is making the world more sustainable and economically resilient.
As part of the global tourism ecosystem, I have witnessed this revolution firsthand through the G20 Tourism Working Group meeting. As economies large and small grapple with the fallout of the pandemic, the meetings have injected new hope and a viable roadmap for the travel trade.
“Tourism provides employment to the poorest.” This quote from Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India best describes the multiplier effect, impact and potential of tourism. The long-term benefits of tourism, including job creation, foreign exchange earnings and acceptance of multiculturalism, offer great prospects for bringing about decisive change. However, there are also some vulnerabilities in the industry, which have been widely exposed during the epidemic.
During India’s G20 presidency, I have observed that the G20 Tourism Working Group meetings have become the defining forum for working together to address these vulnerabilities. The gatherings brought together leaders from top economies, global think tanks and diverse sectors to share best practices, strategies and policies to mitigate the impact of the crisis on the travel industry.
India’s unique perspective on the G20 presidency is also noteworthy. Given its thriving tourism industry and rich cultural history, India is aware of both the benefits and the difficulties of the industry. Our nation can draw attention to the need for sustainable tourism practices that respect local traditions, preserve natural resources and guarantee a fair distribution of benefits.
This focus highlights the critical role that responsible tourism plays in building a more inclusive and ecologically conscious world, in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
This motivates the industry to adopt a strong sustainable development strategy.
Going back to the Tourism Working Group, it becomes a platform to promote innovation and technological development in the tourism industry. I firmly believe that modern technology, from smooth flight bookings to immersive virtual tours, is critical to improving the travel experience. G20 countries can improve the effectiveness, accessibility and sustainability of tourism by combining their resources and knowledge to promote the development and use of cutting-edge technologies. India’s experience in digital innovation and information technology could greatly influence the agenda of these conferences and further the cause.
Another important aspect discussed at the working group meeting was economic resilience. The tourism industry needs a strong structure to withstand shocks and maintain continuity, as it is highly vulnerable to geopolitical tensions and economic changes. Through G20 working group meetings, countries can work together to develop strategies to diversify tourism offerings, invest in workforce skills development, and develop effective crisis management plans. These pre-emptive measures improve the country’s ability to recover from the crisis while also promoting long-term economic stability.
Next, I think global cooperation is needed to provide opportunities to solve problems that transcend national borders. For example, preserving cultural heritage, preserving biodiversity, and reducing carbon footprints are all collaborative efforts in sustainable tourism practices. Working group meetings provide a forum for sharing information and expertise, harmonizing standards, and building alliances that transcend national borders. Cooperation is essential to solving problems that no one country can solve alone.
The Forum’s key distinction is its five fundamental focus areas, which embody the ethos of promoting sustainable, creative and resilient tourism practices on a global scale. I am personally gratified that areas such as green tourism, digitalization, skills development, tourism MSMEs and destination management reflect India’s determination to play a leading role among G20 countries and influence the direction of world tourism. tourism. For example, the mandate of green tourism involves promoting eco-friendly and responsible tourism practices, minimizing the industry’s carbon footprint, preserving biodiversity and protecting fragile ecosystems. Likewise, the group is committed to using digital tools to simplify the travel process, personalize the experience and provide tourists with real-time information.
To me, upskilling, retraining and upskilling are the key differentiators of this job. By investing in training and upskilling programs, G20 countries can provide their tourism workforce with the tools necessary to meet changing visitor needs and expectations, thereby boosting local employability and economic growth.
Create a competitive base for MSMEs and provide opportunities for a new generation of entrepreneurs to participate in global tourism value chains, thereby fostering entrepreneurship and driving economic diversification.
Moreover, destination management is the last piece of the puzzle, and the most critical, as it requires strategies to balance tourism growth with the preservation of local heritage and the well-being of residents.
All in all, I would like to say that I am a firm believer in taking the path of sustainable value creation. This correction in direction not only helps us alleviate temporary challenges, but also helps make the industry more resilient and ready for the future. Through collaboration, knowledge sharing and exchange of best practices, G20 countries can work together to ensure tourism benefits tourists and the destinations they explore.
(The author is the founder and CEO of VFS Global.)