An ascent to the hills dotted with lush green tea estates, a sip of Silver Tips Imperial of Makaibari, one of the finest Darjeeling brews, a visit to a tea garden with torch bearers in the dark and a tryst with local art and culture.
These were what the delegates experienced on Saturday as they congregated here for the start of the three-day meeting of the G20 tourism working group (TWG).
Over 130 foreign delegates, including ambassadors to India from other countries, reached Bagdogra on Saturday morning, from where they were escorted to the Mayfair Tea Resort on the northern end of Siliguri. Later, they were taken to Makaibari, a tea estate known for making some of the best Darjeeling teas.
They also attended a session on adventure tourism, an area on which the Indian government is putting focus, keeping in mind the geographical advantages of the country.
G. Kishan Reddy, the Union minister of tourism, culture and development of NE region, who also arrived here, elaborately spoke on the issue.
“India possesses 70 per cent of the mighty Himalayas, has 7,000 kilometres of coastline, seven major rivers, 70,000 square kilometres of sandy desert, 700 sanctuaries which include 16 tiger reserves. Altogether, the country is endowed with numerous avenues to support adventure tourism in land, water, sky and the hills,” said the minister.
In India, adventure tourism is gaining popularity, he added.
At the session, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, chief coordinator of G20, said green tourism and green development are the main focus of the second G20 TWG meeting.
“This is the opportunity for all delegates to witness how people coexist with nature in a sustainable manner,” he said.
On Sunday, the delegates will join an inaugural session of the meet, which would be followed by two working sessions.
During these sessions, there will be presentations by UNEP (UN Environment Programme) and UNWTO (UN World Tourism Organisation) and a number of participating countries, said a source.
“Simultaneously, there will be three sessions where discussions would be held to promote India as a destination for adventure tourism and also to promote the northeast region of the country for tourists from across the world,” the source added.