|February 16, 2004|
Singapore To Foster Greater Bilateral Tourism Co-Operation With India
|At the invitation of India's Tourism and Culture Minister, Mr Jagmohan, Minister for Trade and Industry, BG (NS) George Yeo will make an official visit to India from 18 to 21 February 2004. |
Accompanied by officials from the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), as well as business leaders from the tourism industry, Minister Yeo will attend the International Conclave on Buddhism and Spiritual Tourism on 18 February, participate in the promotion of the Mahabodhi Temple at Bodhgaya in Bihar, as a World Heritage Site on 19 February and launch the inaugural meeting of the STB's Marketing Advisory Council (India) in Goa on 21 February. In Delhi, Minister Yeo will call on Indian government leaders and speak at an event organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry on 18 February.
This trip to India is a follow-up to earlier discussions Minister Yeo had with Indian Deputy Prime Minister, Mr LK Advani and Minister Jagmohan on greater tourism cooperation between the two countries. The STB hopes to combine the attractiveness of Singapore as a key aviation hub with India's rich historical and cultural heritage to attract more tourists from common source markets like Southeast Asia, China, Europe and the United States.
Both countries will be exploring further co-operation in the areas of tourism and cultural exchanges. Through collaborative partnerships, and involvement of the private and public sectors, both countries will benefit from increased travel to Singapore and India. In addition to exploring collaborations in leisure, healthcare and education tourism, STB is also exploring twinning opportunities in the area of spiritual tourism through the promotion of religious sites like Bodhgaya and Goa.
Bodhgaya, in the state of Bihar, is the most important Buddhist pilgrimage centre in India, where the Lord Buddha finally attained enlightenment. The magnificent Maha Bodhi temple in Bodhgaya is an architectural amalgamation of many cultures and carries inscriptions recording the visits of pilgrims from Sri Lanka, China and Myanmar as far back as the 7th Century. In 2002, UNESCO designated the Mahabodhi temple as a World Heritage site. 140 Buddhists from Singapore including 24 monks will join Minister for the ceremony at Bodhgaya.
Goa, a tiny emerald land on the west coast of India, is one of the most travelled tourism destinations in India. It receives thousands of Catholic visitors every December who flock to Basilica de Bom Jesus, where the tomb of Saint Francis Xavier is located, to pay homage to the Saint on the anniversary of his death. The sacred relics which are kept in the church are carried in a procession to the Se Cathedral, Asia's largest church, for an exposition every 10 years. 11 members of the Eurasian Association, many of Goanese descent, will join Minister in Goa.
On 21 February, Minister Yeo will launch the inaugural meeting of the STB's Marketing Advisory Council (India) in Goa. The formation of the Council was one of the key recommendations of the STB's International Advisory Council during its meeting held in Singapore in November 2003. The Council comprises business leaders from the Tourism, Business, Media and Academia sectors in India. The STB's Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive, Mr Lim Neo Chian chairs the Marketing Advisory Council (India)
while Mr Ranjit Malkani, Chairman of Kuoni Travel Group (India) has been appointed as the co-chair. The Council's views will be sought on the Board's strategies for growing and developing the India market.