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Tourism for SAARC People-to-People contact

There is enormous potential for tourism in the SAARC region. The centuries old civilization, rich and unique cultural diversity, exquisite cuisine, extremely diverse and vast array of geography, splendid archaeological monuments, historic sites of religious significance and above all very hospitable people of South Asia, make the region a very attractive place for intra-regional as well as international tourism.

The SAARC Leaders have always recognized the importance of tourism and emphasized the need to take measures for promoting tourism in the region.

During the Second Summit, the Leaders underscored that concrete steps should be taken to facilitate tourism in the region. Tourism has been an important dimension of most of the subsequent Summits.

At the Twelfth Summit held in Islamabad in January 2004, the Leaders were of the view that development of tourism within South Asia could bring economic, social and cultural dividends.

There is a need for increasing cooperation to jointly promote tourism with South Asia as well as to promote South Asia as a tourism destination, inter alia, by improved air links, they stated in the Declaration.

To achieve this and to commemorate the twentieth year of the establishment of SAARC, the year 2005 has been designated by the Leaders as “South Asia Tourism Year”. Member States are required to individually and jointly organize special events to celebrate it.

Working Group on Tourism The Working Group on Tourism was established by the Council of Ministers during its Twenty-fourth Session held in Islamabad in January 2004. This was done after a comprehensive review of the SAARC Integrated Programme of Action by the Standing Committee at its Fourth Special Session held in Kathmandu in August 2003.

This intergovernmental process will compliment the endeavours by SCCI Tourism Council. Thus ensuring public-private partnership for the promotion of tourism.

The First Meeting of the Working Group on Tourism was held in Colombo on 16-17 August 2004.

In addition to the SAARC Member States and representatives of the SAARC Secretariat, representatives of the SCCI Tourism Council and the ASEAN Secretariat also attended the Meeting.

Besides reviewing the implementation of programme of activities relevant to its mandate, the Working Group made a number of recommendations for promotion of tourism in the SAARC region e.g. printing of a SAARC Travel Guide, production of a documentary movie on tourism in SAARC, promotion of sustainable development of Eco-Tourism, Cultural Tourism and Nature Tourism, collaboration in HRD in tourism sector by having programmes for exchange of teachers, students, teaching modules and materials, Promoting Cooperation in the field of tourism with other relevant regional and international tourism organizations.

It also proposed a number of activities to celebrate the South Asia Tourism Year - 2005 in a befitting manner.

SAARC Regional Centres

The SAARC Secretariat is supported by Regional Centres established in Member Countries to promote regional cooperation. These Centres are managed by Governing Boards comprising representatives from Member States, SAARC Secretary-General and the Ministry of Foreign/External Affairs of the host government. The Director of the Centre acts as Member Secretary to the Governing Board which reports to the Standing Committee.

Established Centres

SAARC Agricultural Information Centre (SAIC), Dhaka
SAARC Meteorological Research Centre (SMRC), Dhaka
SAARC Tuberculosis Centre (STC), Kathmandu
SAARC Documentation Centre (SDC), New Delhi
SAARC Human Resources Development Centre (SHRDC), Islamabad
SAARC Coastal Zone Management Centre, Maldives
SAARC Information Centre, Nepal
SAARC Energy Centre, Pakistan
SAARC Disaster Management Centre, India

Centres Being Established

The following three Regional Centres are in the process of being established.

SAARC Cultural Centre, Sri Lanka
SAARC Forestry Centre, Bhutan


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