The British government is looking forward to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s visit to New Delhi in September for the G20 summit, a British minister said.
British Minister of State for Media, Tourism and Creative Industries Sir John Whittingdale, who was in Goa for the meeting of G20 tourism ministers that concluded on June 22, also said India is doing a “great job” as chair of the influential bloc.
India assumed the Presidency of the G20 on December 1, 2022. About 200 rallies under various tracks of the bloc will be organized across the country, culminating in the Sept. 9-10 summit.
When asked about India’s role so far as the G20 chairman, the British minister praised the country and also spoke about some of the global challenges faced by all of humanity.
“I think India is doing a great job. The meetings we’ve had here (in Goa) have been great organised. I know some of my other colleagues in the government have attended meetings elsewhere. And of course we look forward to the visit from our Prime Minister to India later in the year,” Whittingdale told PTI in an interview in Goa.
Rishi Sunak will be in India to attend the G20 summit, he said.
The Conservative MP representing Maldon attended the G20 tourism ministerial meeting on June 21, which took place after the June 19-20 meeting of the G20 tourism working group in Goa.
India held several bilateral meetings with various G20 members and host countries on the sidelines of the two pivotal tourism circuit events in Panaji.
India’s Tourism Minister SY Naik also held a bilateral meeting with Whittingdale, calling it a “good meeting”.
Asked about his experience at the G20 Tourism Ministers’ meeting in Goan’s capital, Whittingdale said: “It was great. Goa is doing a great job hosting the G20 (meetings). We had a very constructive discussion (on 21 June) on the challenges tourism faces.” At the end of the G20 ministerial meeting, a Goa roadmap and action plan were later released, as well as a ministerial outcome document.
Five interrelated key priorities of the G20 tourism trajectory, including green tourism, digitalization and destination management, were “endorsed by all G20 countries” for achieving sustainable, resilient and inclusive growth in the sector, officials said on June 21.
Approximately 130 delegates from countries such as USA, UK, Spain, South Africa, Russia, Mauritius, Australia, Singapore, South Korea, Indonesia, Canada, Mexico, Nigeria, Oman, Netherlands, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, UAE , and top international organizations participated in the ministerial meeting.
When asked about the results of the ministerial meeting in Goa, Whittingdale said making the tourism sector more sustainable and resilient and reducing its environmental footprint is the right way forward.
“The overall approach of the Indian Presidency – One Earth. One Family. One Future – absolutely sums up the challenges we will face. Issues like sustainable transport are a big part of that, so there was a general agreement (during the meeting) that all countries are trying to reduce our carbon emissions, to protect the environment, and technology will also help with that,” he said.
Following the ministerial meeting on June 22, a group of G20 delegates had visited the historic Basilica of Bom Jesus in Old Goa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is also home to the holy relics of St. Francis Xavier.
The delegates also later visited the Museum of Christian Art (MoCA) and a Portuguese-era mansion built in 1590, where a grand lunch was held for them, as the G20 tourism ministerial meeting concluded “successfully” in Goa .
After the meeting, it’s a “wonderful opportunity to see some of Goa’s heritage beauty, so I’m really happy to be here,” Whittingdale said shortly after visiting the church.
He was given a tour of the historic church by Fr. Patricio Fernandes, who also shared how the remains of the holy saint were moved from different places in the world to finally rest in Goa.
“And to be shown around the Basilica of Bom Jesus and to hear about the history of the relics of St. Francis Xavier, all of that is hugely memorable, a great privilege to be able to see,” he said.
Whittingdale and other delegates later also visited the historic Mangeshi Temple in Ponda, where they also attended an ‘aarti’, and concluded the heritage tour of Goa with a sumptuous lunch at Figueiredo Mansion, a Portuguese-era building whose oldest part was built in 1590.
“Catholic churches have certain similarities, but what’s interesting about this one (Basilica of Bom Jesus), and everything we’ve seen in this museum (MoCA), is the Indian influence on traditional Christian sculptures and works… you could see the Indian artist cultures had crept in, and that’s a fascinating combination,” said the British minister.
Asked how G20 countries can work together for heritage conservation, he said: “I think it is terribly important, every country has its own very special history and its beautiful monuments, and Goa is no exception. But indeed it is very important for all of humanity that we preserve it and allow future generations to enjoy it as we can today.”
“So that’s one of the very big challenges for tourism going forward, and one of the issues we’ve been discussing,” Whittingdale added.