Culture & Heritage acts as an engine for Sustainable Tourism Development

PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI) recently organized the 10th International Heritage Tourism Conclave with the theme ‘Harnessing Power of Heritage Tourism with Focus on Sustainability’ in Panchkula.

The programme was supported by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India; Madhya Pradesh Tourism Board; Rajasthan Tourism; Haryana Tourism Corporation Ltd.; InterGlobe Technology Quotient and Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Ltd. The Conclave was attended by over 80 delegates from travel and hospitality industry.

Building on the previous nine editions, the Conclave deliberated on how tourism and culture sectors can work together more collaboratively and increase public-private partnerships to ensure the protection of Cultural and Natural Heritage while extending benefits to local communities.

Inaugurating the Conclave, Ms. Rupinder Brar (IRS), Additional Director General – Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, said: “Heritage Tourism plays a crucial role in building the visitor economy and destinations should seek to maximize the opportunities it brings. India currently has 38 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, a number we are certain will grow in the years ahead. Each of these sites is a potential hub for economic activity.”

She further added: “Besides World Heritage Sites, intangible cultural heritage too is a major driver of sustainable development. While tourism offers the most obvious source of revenue, every effort must also be made to develop urban infrastructure and revitalize other forms of heritage around these sites in order to build thriving local economies.”

Ms. Brar mentioned that the Ministry of Tourism has been organizing series of Webinars under the theme ‘Dekho Apna Desh’, showcasing the diverse culture, heritage, destinations and tourism products of the country. “We reaffirm our commitment to work with private stakeholders and other partners too,” she said.

In his Presidential Address, Mr. Sanjay Aggarwal, President, PHDCCI, said: “This conclave comes after a year-long VC meetings, the very thought of seeing everyone’s presence today reconfirms my faith in the saying that ‘there is an opportunity in every adversity’. With international travel remaining largely out of bound to the travellers, domestic travel will have its strong hold in the second half of 2021, as more and more people look inwards to explore their own homeland.”

Mr. Aggarwal further added that a 360 degree approach panning from investment from the government to build supporting infrastructure and industry focus on innovation, technology, sustainable best practices, exemplary service, creating customer experience will surely and steadily help in strengthening the thrust in domestic tourism.

H.E. Mr. Milan Hovorka, Ambassador, Embassy of the Czech Republic; H.E. Mr. Thomas Selby Pillay, High Commissioner, High Commission of the Republic of Seychelles; H.E. Dr. Marjan Cencen, Ambassador, Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia; H.E. Mr. Pham Sanh Chau, Ambassador, Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam; and Mr. Ferdy Piay, Charge d’Affaires, Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia were present at the programme and shared the heritage tourism potential of their respective countries.

PHDCCI and its Knowledge Partner – ORG India jointly released a Knowledge Report titled ‘Harnessing Power of Heritage Tourism with Focus on Sustainability’. The report gives a holistic view on heritage tourism across the world and in the country. The report provides ample scope and opportunities towards preservation of world’s cultural and natural heritage.

While setting the theme of the Conclave, Mr. Anil Parashar, Chairman – Tourism Committee, PHDCCI, said: “We all are aware that Covid-19 has adversely impacted the Tourism Industry. The government as well as the industry will need to rise to the challenge of transforming top Indian destinations as world class tourist attractions. The use of data science, big data and artificial intelligence is essential for promoting Responsible and Sustainable Tourism to support and unify communities for years to come. Innovation should be integrated for better management, promotion and preservation of heritage, also to make Heritage Tourism accessible.”

Mr. Rajan Sehgal, Co-Chairman – Tourism Committee, PHDCCI, said: “Cultural Heritage – both tangible and intangible are resources that need to be protected and carefully managed. It is fundamental that tourism authorities study how best to develop these cultural heritage sites while protecting and preserving them for the long-term.”

The domain experts in the Panel Discussion on ‘Generating momentum for making India the global epicenter for Heritage Tourism’ included Mr. P. P. Khanna, President, Association of Domestic Tour Operators of India (ADTOI), as the Moderator while Panelists included Dr. Shikha Jain, Convener – Haryana Chapter, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH); Ms. Shabnam Siddiqui, Executive Director, United Nations Global Compact Network India (UNGCNI); Mr. Jagdeep Singh Chandail, Senior Member, Indian Heritage Hotels Association (IHHA); and Mr. Pankaj Parashar, Indian Film and Television Director.

Over a year being lost and with the second wave hitting across a number of countries, calls for creation of new partnerships and collaboration which shall reinvent and diversify the offerings of Cultural and Heritage Tourism with larger focus on sustainability. The panelists highlighted that culture and heritage acts as an engine for tourism development which is truly sustainable and we can look forward to nourishing the balance of universe through tourism and culture.

A Heritage Walk was also organized at Pinjore Gardens for the delegates to enjoy the heritage city of Panchkula, not only as past, but as a living tradition. Mr. Chandrakant Kataria, Additional Managing Director, Haryana Tourism Corporation Ltd., welcomed all the delegates and showcased the heritage component of Pinjore Gardens. He shared the commitment of Government of Haryana in fostering private-public partnership for improving tourism ecosystem.

The soft copy of the Knowledge Report can be downloaded from below link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1O-NKpi3sD4D3WPML0QkaOU1W3mm2aNZo/view?usp=sharing