Adventure Tour Operators Association of India (ATOAI) has announced its first Himalayan Mountaineering and Adventure Tourism Meet, scheduled to be held in New Delhi from January 31, to February 2, 2023.
According to Capt. Swadesh Kumar, Founding President of ATOAI who now heads the Climbing Expeditions Promotion Committee, the Himalayan Mountaineering meet was started in the 1970s with an objective to promote climbing expeditions in the country. This initiative was taken by Air India and the adventure tour operators at that time. Air India initiated it with the support of MOT with the Indian Mountaineering Foundation actively involved. The meet was opened to international and national mountaineers.
“There is a dire need to aggressively promote the Indian Himalayas. Over the past century Mountaineering as an activity has been the birthing bed of other adventure sports like trekking, rafting, skiing and camping to name a few,” said Capt. Kumar.
Vaibhav Kala, the Officiating President of ATOAI says that states like Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh and Sikkim, etc are already on the world map for mountaineering in India. However, the Northeast has vast potential, many destinations are still unexplored, especially for outdoor and adventure activities. Arunachal has, for example, the unexplored Gorichen (6,858m) and Kangto (7,060m) peaks. These can be promoted with world-class safety measures and guidelines in place.
Vinayak Koul, Honorary Secretary of ATOAI is upbeat about reviving the meet, he says “we at ATOAI would like to revive the Indian Himalayan Mountaineering Meet which first started in the ’70s as an initiative by Air India, MOT, IMF and a handful of Adventure Tour Operators to promote climbing expeditions in India’. We hope to see the industry benefiting from this event and the exposure it will get in the national and international markets.
The mountaineering and climbing experts feel sad to see the international mountaineering community selecting other countries like Nepal, Bhutan, China and Pakistan over India. “We would like to bring in some of the top mountaineers from across the globe, international journalists covering adventure tourism and national players on the same platform in India in order to showcase our expertise and potential”, says Capt. Kumar.
The main objective of the Mountaineering Meet 2022 is to showcase the year-round potential of the Indian Himalayas.
This will be a three-day event with 250-300 national delegates which will include famous Indian Mountaineers who have contributed immensely to the growth of adventure tourism in this country.
ATOAI also plans to invite 100 International delegates including adventure travel journalists, photographers, and Mountaineers through their partners and alpine clubs, however, it will be open to mountaineering, tour operators, equipment manufacturers and all others who have an interest in adventure tourism from around the world as delegates.
Tourism is one of the sectors most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, impacting economies, livelihoods, public services and opportunities on all continents. All parts of its vast value chain have been affected.
As countries gradually lift travel restrictions and tourism slowly restarts in many parts of the world, it is the right time to promote Indian adventure tourism to the rest of the world.
“Adventure tourism is what tourism should be today and definitely what tourism will be tomorrow”- UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai
Adventure travel is a $683 billion industry globally showing a 21 per cent Compound Annual Growth rate since 2012. Given our huge potential vis-a-vis adventure and sustainable tourism, we can easily double our inbound figures, presently at 10 million tourists (UNWTO) in the next three years (post-COVID) through adventure tourism alone.
Tourism supports one in 10 jobs and provides livelihoods for many millions more in both developing and developed economies. As a matter of fact, Adventure Tourism is one of the backbones of the tourism industry as this segment reaches to the remotest of places in India and provides livelihood to locals through its various activities.