The three-day mega tourism event “Ladakh: New Start, New Goals” begins at Leh

New Delhi : Lieutenant Governor of Union Territory of Ladakh  Radha Krishna Mathur and Union Minister of Tourism, Culture and Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) Shri G. Kishan Reddy addressed the mega-tourism event “Ladakh: New Start, New Goals” in Leh today. Shri G. Kishan Reddy graced the event virtually. During the event “A Tourism Vision for Ladakh” document was unveiled which focuses on overall development of the Ladakh Region. The Document envisions promoting tourism in the backdrop of sustainable ecological practices, building on local material and human resources. Member of Parliament of Ladakh Shri Jamyang Tsering Namgyal; Secretary of Tourism & Culture, UT Ladakh Shri K Mehboob Ali Khan; Secretary of Ministry of Tourism, GoI Shri Arvind Singh and other dignitaries also attended the event.

The Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India in collaboration with Department of Tourism, Administration of Union Territory of Ladakh and Adventure Tour Operators Association of India (ATOAI) is organising this event titled Ladakh: New Start, New Goals from 25th -28th August, 2021. The objective of the event is to promote tourism to Ladakh as a tourist destination with focus on aspects of adventure, culture and responsible tourism. The event aims to provide indigenous product knowledge to the industry stakeholders and also a platform to local stakeholders for interaction with the Tour Operators / buyers from the rest of the country.

Lieutenant Governor of Union Territory of Ladakh Shri Radha Krishna Mathur spoke about the new tourism products that Ladakh can offer to the visitors such as Winter Tourism, Science based tourism etc. Shri Mathur added that the cultural and heritage tourism has enormous potential in Ladakh to offer to its visitors. Shri Mathur also mentioned about the carbon neutral path for Ladakh that is being followed. He was happy to mention that Buddhist Chanting has been identified by the UNESCO as intangible cultural heritage of Ladakh. He appreciated Ministry of Tourism for organising this event.

Union Minister of Tourism, Culture and Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) Shri G. Kishan Reddy in his virtual address said that Tourism in Ladakh has seen immense growth in the last 40 years. Ladakh is the ‘Land of High Passes’, that has something to offer to every tourist from bliss of natural beauty to adventure opportunities for trekkers, bikers, cyclist, climbers etc. At the same, the monasteries of Hemis, Alchi, Thiksay make Ladakh a cultural and heritage hub. The Union Minister also mentioned that to leverage the huge tourism potential of Ladakh, the Tourism Ministry has launched ‘Ladakh: New Start New Goals’ program and this is a platform that provides tour operators from other parts of the country and customers to interact with local stakeholders from Ladakh. Shri Reddy further added that Tourism Ministry has also prepared ‘Ladakh Vision Document’ where all matters related to the development of Tourism in Ladakh are discussed in detail. The Central government has also contributed Rs.23.21 Crore for Tourist Water Screen Projection Multimedia show and other tourist attractions and also developing Chaukihang Vihara Project under the PRASHAD scheme.  He expressed his belief that in places like Ladakh for tourism to develop the community partnership is very important. Shri Reddy stressed on need to develop overall tourism development along with  focussing on creating a professional skilled workforce. The Minister stated that Tourism is one of the largest job creators in India. The Prime Minister has named Tourism as one of the 12 Champion sectors in the services Industry .

Member of Parliament of Ladakh Shri Jamyang Tsering Namgyal said that I believe that this program will not only boost the tourism sector of Ladakh  but also boost the economy of UT. This program will give us a vision how we can create sustainable and responsible tourism in  UT.  Shri Namgyal further shared his vision of projecting Ladakh as a year-round destination for tourism and also emphasised the potentiality of winter tourism and winter sports in Ladakh. He stressed on conducting Zanskar winter tourism festival and winter sports festival for a duration of one month and also urged to boost tourism in Kargil.

Secretary of Ministry of Tourism, GoI Shri Arvind Singh said that Ladakh is a heaven of adventure sports. Its rugged terrain and gushing rivers provide ripe opportunities for activities like trekking, river rafting, camping, mountain climbing and biking. Tourism plays a vital role in the economy of the Ladakh region. Shri Arvind added that COVID 19 pandemic has impacted the world. However, the signs of recovery have been witnessed and Ladakh is one of the prime movers of this recovery phase and is also one of the most preferred destination. Shri Arvind further said that as we restart tourism, the Ministry has put in place a System for Assessment, Awareness and Training in Hospitality Industry (SAATHI) to ensure compliance with COVID 19 Safety and Hygiene guidelines. As on date, more than 10,000 accommodation units have registered under SAATHI. Ministry of Tourism promotes Ladakh in domestic and in international markets through various campaigns and initiatives such as Dekho Apna Desh wherein a dedicated webinar on Ladakh was conducted.

Secretary of Tourism & Culture, UT Ladakh Shri K Mehboob Ali Khan thanked Ministry of Tourism GoI for drafting “A Tourism Vision for Ladakh” document and said that this document will help in finalising tourism policy for UT. Shri Mehboob Ali Khan said that as per data 50 percent GDP of Ladakh depends on tourism sector, this place has its own unique character. We will be hiring expert consultants for tourism policy  and very soon Ladakh have a  tourism policy.

Advisor to Lt. Governor, UT Ladakh Shri Umang Narula congratulated Ministry of Tourism for preparing vision document. This Vision document can provide a good base  for finalising tourism policy for UT. It is very important for Ladakh to have a tourism policy . Shri Narula also thanked Ministry of Tourism, GoI for there Support through various central schemes. He further said that we have come up Homestay insensitive policy and organized winter conclave to promote winter tourism. He added that self regulation needs to be promoted more for responsible tourism.

Vision Document is to promote Ladakh as a high value, low impact tourism destination that fosters sustainable and inclusive growth for the local community. The vision represents the expectations of the stakeholders of the tourism industry as well as the local population, considering their economic and social needs. By integrating best practices to improve convenience and experience, the goal is to create tourist experiences in Ladakh comparable to the best places of the world. Suggestions in the document assure little to no negative effects of tourism on the local ecology and population through regulated and monitored tourism. Through the promotion of tourism in Ladakh, the document aims to create employment for the locals and promote Ladakh’s culture and products to tourists from India and the rest of the world.

After inaugural session panel discussions covered various topics like holistic development of tourism in Ladakh with focus on new areas for development, connectivity, infrastructure, sustainable and community based development, opportunities and challenges of Adventure Tourism in Leh and Homestay Tourism potential in unlocking new areas and role played by it in empowering local community and women.

Domestic tourism plays an important role in the overall development of the tourism sector in India. Ministry of Tourism undertakes various promotional activities for the promotion of Domestic Tourism and these activities are primarily aimed at increasing awareness about tourism destinations and products, promoting domestic tourism with focus on priority areas like the North East, Union Territory of Ladakh and Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir.

As the COVID 19 pandemic has impacted the world in an unprecedented manner and brought it to a standstill. However, the signs of recovery have been witnessed and the movement of people across the country has started and every means of travel i.e. airlines, trains and highways has reported regular increase in visitors traffic in the domestic tourism segment. The Ministry has aggressively started tourism promotions with participation of the industry stakeholders. Ministry of Tourism promotes Ladakh in domestic as well as in international markets through various campaigns and initiatives such as Dekho Apna Desh wherein a dedicated webinar on Ladakh was conducted. Promotion of Ladakh is also undertaken through Incredible India Website, Social Media Platforms of the Ministry, printing of flyers etc.

The event is attended by approx. 150 participants which includes Opinion Makers, Tour Operators, Hoteliers, Diplomats, Homestay Owners, Senior Officials from Government of India, UT Administration of Ladakh and Media. The three days’ event includes activities like exhibition, panel discussions, B2B meetings, technical tours, Cultural evening to showcase tourism facilities and tourism products of Ladakh.