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Remarks by Ambassador at the ‘Next Destination India – Tourism Summit in Berne’ on March 19, 2019

Posted on: March 19, 2019 | Back | Print

Remarks by Ambassador at the ‘Next Destination India – Tourism Summit in Berne’ on March 19, 2019

Good Afternoon everybody, Hon’ble Member of Swiss Parliament HE Claude Bagle, Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

Let me begin by congratulating the Commercial and Cultural Wings of the Embassy for organising this Next Destination India – Tourism Summit in Berne today. I welcome all of you to this event. 

I also welcome you to the Khadi Exhibition here and the Saree – Traditional Indian Costume show to be held later today. 

I am happy that HE Claude Bagle could join us today. He has returned from India participating in the Kumbh Mela, in Prayagraj at the holy Triveni Sangam, the sacred confluence of the Ganga, the Yamuna and the mystical Saraswati. He was witness to the way devotees in multitude moved in the holy city like waves in the ocean filled with sense of devotion. We look forward to hear his experience on the visit. 

India is a vast country with a huge potential for tourism. India is full of historical places and monuments, great shrines, and temples, places of pilgrimages, wildlife sanctuaries, hill stations, sea resorts, places of winter sports, etc. It offers a great variety of cultures, religions, festivals, languages, fairs, music, etc. India’s tourism is as vast as it is varied. While the infrastructure at home is being strengthened, promotional activities are undertaken in a big way abroad to attract more tourists.

Switzerland is a great example for all to follow on how to attract tourists. In his famed book ‘Swiss Made’ R. James Breiding writes how Switzerland learnt to ‘sell snow and air’. Today several hundreds of thousands of Indian tourists visit Switzerland every year to enjoy its spectacular landscape and the drama and beauty of its mountain setting. Many in India see it as a dreamland of beautiful Bollywood scenes.
During my travels to the length and breadth of this landscape during the last one year, I realised that what makes this country the attraction of the world, is that here in Switzerland, every Canton, every city, every small township and every village has something unique to offer. Wherever you go, you return with the satisfaction of having experienced something unique. The more you explore, the more you realise that there is much more you need to enjoy and explore. 

This is exactly what you hear from those Swiss friends who have been to India. Many have spent a few weeks in some part of the country. Most speak about their experience and experiments with Yoga and Ayurveda and their houseboat ride in the backwaters of Kerala. Many share their memorable experiences in Rajasthan and Agra, most of them are eager to visit India again. 
A visit to India is the wish list of almost every Swiss. It is also in the wish list of most foreigners working in Switzerland, who constitute around 25% of the population. In order to further persuade this large group to visit India, we thought it appropriate to celebrate 2019-20 as Year of India Tourism in Switzerland, with a motto: Atithi Devo Bhava; 'The guest is equivalent to God'. This is taken from an ancient Hindu scripture Taittiriya Upanishad and has become part of the "code of conduct" for Indian society. It prescribes a dynamic of the host - guest relationship. It says, “matrudevo bhava, pitrudevo bhava, acharyadevo bhava, atithidevo bhava”. It literally means "be one for whom the Mother is God, be one for whom the Father is God, be one for whom the Teacher is God, be one for whom the guest is God”. In it lies the essence of Indian spirituality. 

The objective of this Tourism Summit today is a brain storming session on how to deepen the tourism engagement between our two countries, and also to learn from the best practices of Switzerland. In 2018 we celebrated the 70th anniversary of Treaty of Friendship that India and Switzerland signed in 1948. We organised a series of cultural events reaching across several cities of Switzerland. We were amazed to see the India connection in every city and every village that we visited in this country. If nothing else, there is a connection of Yoga and Ayurveda that every village in Switzerland has with India. There is no household in Switzerland which has at least one member in the family practicing yoga. 

We plan to reach out to all those who have been to India to take a second visit to India. Those who have not been to India to make it their next touristic destination. India is a large market for travel and tourism. It offers a diverse portfolio of niche tourism products - cruises, adventure, medical, wellness, sports, MICE, eco-tourism, film, rural and religious tourism. India has been recognized as a destination for spiritual tourism for domestic and international tourists. I can assure you, it will be a memorable experience to visit India that one would cherish the rest of your life. We plan to reach out to all stakeholders of tourism industry in Switzerland to promote India Swiss engagement in tourism. 

I wish you a very useful interactive session today. I once again invite you to stay back for the Saree – A traditional Indian costume show later today.

Thank you.