The Adventure Tour Operators Association of India (ATOAI) successfully hosted its 15th annual adventure tourism convention at the Statue of Unity, in Gujarat setting the stage for a vibrant discussion on the growth and potential of adventure tourism. The convention, a precursor to the upcoming Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2024, witnessed significant participation from central and state dignitaries.
At the four-day convention at the Tent City II in Kevadia, Padma Shri Ajeet Bajaj, President of ATOAI, welcomed attendees and highlighted the association’s collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism to enhance adventure tourism guidelines across India. The day-long proceedings during two business days of the convention featured keynote addresses, panel discussions, and experience-sharing sessions aimed at advancing the adventure tourism industry.
At the inauguration ceremony on December 17, the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, Pema Khandu, emphasised the vast potential of adventure tourism in the Northeastern region. He praised the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and highlighted the ‘Dekho Apna Desh’ initiative, aiming to develop vibrant villages for sustainable tourism.
“Adventure and Arunachal always go hand in hand, as we have plenty to offer to support the industry. We boast an age-old tradition, as Lord Krishna married Rukmini from our State. This ancient connection further solidifies the region’s significance on the tourism map. Tourism should be responsible, and we must discard the ‘use and throw’ mentality. Being one of the largest biodiversity hotspots in the world, there’s a crucial need for sustainable tourism practices, especially in border areas that serve as a sanctuary for rare & endangered species,” the Arunachal CM said.
Attending the evening session on the day, the Gujarat Tourism Minister Mulubhai Bera, shared insights on making Gujarat a leading adventure destination. He also credited the government’s initiatives for transforming Gujarat’s tourism landscape and emphasised the state’s diverse attractions, from mountains and forests to beaches and heritage sites.
“The adventure tourism sector plays a crucial role in both our economy and employment, contributing significantly to the GDP. Events like this bring us together to delve into key areas of adventure tourism. Keeping in mind the growing interest of people towards adventure tourism, we have been constantly reviewing the development of adventure activities in potential tourist destinations. On the ocassion, Gujarat government has signed several MOUs worth INR 770 crore with the best objective of developing adventure tourism in Gujarat. With ATOAI’s support, we aim to further explore and enhance Gujarat’s adventure tourism sector,” the minister said.
Fitness enthusiast and notable actor Milind Soman also delivered a special address, emphasising the importance of adventure tourism in India. A panel discussion on ‘The Adventure Trilogy’ moderated by Lt Rakesh Kapoor explored topics such as mega trails, border tourism, and vibrant villages, focusing on sustainability and eco-friendly practices.
Gujarat’s Tourism Vision
During his address, the Secretary Tourism, Government of Gujarat, Hareet Shukla, highlighted Gujarat’s leadership in attracting both foreign and domestic tourists. He credited Gujarat Government’s efforts for accelerating the state’s tourism sector through various initiatives and policies. “Gujarat leads as a destination for foreign tourists and stands among the top 5 states for domestic tourists, as per the India Tourism Statistics Report. In the last two years, the Chief Minister of Gujarat Bhupendrabhai Patel has continued the legacy forward and with a dedicated focus on tourism, he has spearheaded numerous initiatives, projects, and policies which is accelerating the tourism sector in the state,” he said.
He also informed that Gujarat has tripled the budget for tourism in the state to propel growth of the sector in the state.
MoUs worth INR 770 crore
In a significant boost to the tourism sector, a total of 10 MoUs, totaling over INR 770 crores, were signed at the ATOAI Convention in the lead-up to the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit in January 2024. These agreements aim to enhance knowledge-sharing on adventure tourism, focusing on film shooting and infrastructure development. Key developments planned through the MoUs are establishing a four-star resort and an entertainment zone and culture theme park.
The convention also featured presentations on Gujarat Tourism by Managing Director of Gujarat Tourism, Dr Sourabh Pardhi, Punjab Tourism by Principal Secretary Rakhee Gupta Bhandari, and Adventure Tourism in Jammu & Kashmir by Amarjeet Singh, Special Secretary, Government of Jammu & Kashmir.