12th February 2020
Travel Writers’ Conclave’s 3rd edition was organized in the holy city of Varanasi in 2019. A joint effort of the Uttar Pradesh Tourism Department and Lonely Planet Magazine India, this event was one-of-its-kind since it was held at the iconic Kumbh Mela. The conclave brought together a diverse panel of global travel writers, bloggers, and field experts, with the goal to forward tourism in the state.
The six-day event took writers and photojournalists across Varanasi and ended at Ayodhya. The focus of the conclave was to have them experience the holy city during the biggest religious and spiritual festival in the country. Complete with panel discussions on spirituality and learning from organizing Kumbh, the conclave’s objective was to promote tourism in the state. We sat down with Mr. Sunil Wuthoo, Business Director at Worldwide Media, for an interesting chat about the conclave and its larger impact on the state and its people.
For the 3rd edition of the conclave, we wanted to bring together global travel writers, bloggers, journalists, photographers, and field experts all under one roof, to explore the Kumbh Mela in a new light. The sheer scale and diversity of the Kumbh made for a great backdrop for the conclave. The travel writers and bloggers got to visit the Kumbh Mela and experience the unique spirituality of Uttar Pradesh. They also got to sit in on the numerous panel discussions that explored topics like ‘Modern spirituality’ and ‘Learnings from the organization of the Kumbh’.
It was curated such that we could leverage the audience that these bloggers and writers had amassed, as a means to bring tourists to Uttar Pradesh. We also had experts from fields like planning, conservation, food, and architecture to help create a road map for improving the tourist experience in the state.
Kumbh Mela is one of India's largest festivals and brings thousands of tourists and pilgrims to the doors of Varanasi. This was the most evident challenge for us to tackle. We had to organize the conclave such that it didn’t hinder the other festivities and instead added to the overall experience. We wanted the conclave and the festivities of the Kumbh to complement each other so that the tourists could enjoy a wholesome Kumbh experience like no other.
Events like the Travel Writers’ Conclave are great conversation starters for boosting tourism in a state. The conclave brought together people from different fields with similar visions. Also, having several international and domestic travel writers at the conclave added to the impact of the event. These travel writers created content pieces that were amplified on several global media platforms, both within India and internationally. We also boosted the event’s reach through our Times of India Group media asset. This generated a lot of c curiosity about the festival.
It also brought to the table interesting ideas and perspectives for the development of the tourism industry and the state as a whole. The conclave also highlighted the Kumbh Mela and explored areas of spiritual tourism, which is a unique experience for people visiting Uttar Pradesh.
The large successes of all three editions of the conclave in Uttar Pradesh are certainly promising for similar events in other states across India. We are in talks with other states like Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, and Assam, and even with international destinations like Singapore and Los Angeles. We’ve already organized one such event with Singapore tourism. Such events have great potential for promoting tourism and subsequent development in a state, which is a goal we aim to achieve.