Jammu and Kashmir recently hosted the third tourism working group meeting of G20 countries in the capital city of Srinagar. This marked the first international event in the region since the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and its transition from statehood to a union territory in August 2019. The meeting, held amid tight security measures, aimed to promote tourism and attract investments to the region.
Srinagar received a glittering facelift in preparation for the event, with significant improvements made to the city’s infrastructure and roads leading to the Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Center (SKICC), the venue for the G20 meeting. The Chief Coordinator of G20, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, highlighted that India is halfway through its G20 presidency, with 118 meetings already conducted across the country. The Srinagar meeting garnered the highest number of participants compared to the previous two tourism meetings.
Approximately 60 delegates from G20 member countries attended the meeting, with Singapore contributing the highest number of delegates. Special invitee guest countries also sent representatives to participate in the event. Notably, China opposed the holding of the G20 meeting in Kashmir, while Saudi Arabia did not register for the event. Turkey also decided to abstain from the Srinagar meeting. India responded to China’s objection by asserting its right to hold meetings on its own territory and emphasized the importance of maintaining peace and tranquility along the border for normal bilateral relations.
Given the security concerns surrounding the event, Srinagar was placed under an unprecedented security blanket. Marine commandos, national security guards, anti-drone units, and thousands of troops from various security forces were deployed to ensure a comprehensive ground-to-air security cover. The authorities took precautions to prevent any disruption by terrorists who might seek to target the G20 meeting. Traffic advisories were issued, and certain routes, including Srinagar’s boulevard road, were closed to traffic. However, shopkeepers in the Lal Chowk area were provided special passes to keep their shops open without inconvenience.
In anticipation of the meeting, extensive efforts were made to enhance the aesthetics of Srinagar city. The Srinagar smart city project revitalized footpaths and roads, while the Jhelum riverfront underwent renovation with the construction of concrete footpaths. Notably, the Poloview market, known as one of Srinagar’s premier shopping destinations, received a remarkable transformation. The market’s four-lane road was closed and replaced with pedestrian-friendly tiled pathways, creating a visually appealing and pedestrian-centric shopping experience. G20 delegates were expected to visit the Poloview market as part of the sightseeing program, showcasing the success of Srinagar’s smart city project.
Officials believe that the G20 meeting will significantly boost tourism in Kashmir, which already attracts a large number of domestic and foreign tourists. Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha expressed confidence that the successful outcome of the tourism working group meeting would lead to increased tourist inflows and investments in Jammu and Kashmir.
The third tourism working group meeting of G20 countries held in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, provided an opportunity to promote tourism and attract investments to the region. The event showcased the city’s infrastructure improvements and the successful implementation of the Srinagar smart city project. Despite security concerns and objections from certain countries, the meeting proceeded with extensive security measures in place. The positive outcomes of the meeting are expected to further enhance tourism and economic development in Jammu and Kashmir.