Ahmedabad: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said even though the kite festival existed in the state for a long time, it was his government which brought it at an international platform. After inaugurating the 25th International Kite Festival at the Sabarmati River front in Ahmedabad, Modi said: "Patang Utsav (kite festival) was a routine effort. It has existed for a long time. But what was not there was the skill to show it to the world. We showed how a kite can draw the world to Gujarat."
Stating that this time the state government is taking the International Kite Festival to smaller towns, he said, "We are trying to take this festival to smaller towns like Modhera. We are trying to brand Modhera and market it." Modi also highlighted the efforts made by the Gujarat government to give a strong impetus to tourism. He said that festivals such as this will give a boost to tourism and also benefit the poorest of poor.
"Gujarat has a lot to show and give to the world. But in the past, least emphasis was given to promote tourism in the way in which it should have been. However, in the last few years, we have given an impetus to tourism. We want people to come to Gujarat, to see Gujarat," the Chief Minister said. Despite starting late on promoting tourism, he said that very few places would have emerged as such an attraction for tourists the way Gujarat has. Gujarat's tourism sector was growing at a double rate than India's, Modi said.
"Tourism sector in India is growing at 7 per cent while tourism in Gujarat is growing at 16 per cent," he said, adding that "we are reaping fruits for the initiatives we took." It is the strength of the six crore Gujaratis that draws people from all over the world, he stressed. State Tourism Minister Saurabh Patel also spoke on the occasion while Revenue Minister Anandi Patel, Finance Minister Nitin Patel, among others also marked their presence.
Delegates from 50 countries and ten states of India also participated in the festival. A British national, who was in the state for the first time to participate in the festival, said that "Gujaratis were hospitable and they were enjoying this experience." Stephan Bekker from Cape Town in South Africa said, "The atmosphere here is fantastic. I had attended the kite festival in Beijing also where it was organised during the night. People used to fly kites by putting up lights on it and the competition was whose kite would remain in the sky for the longest period. May be, Gujarat can look forward to organising the kite festival during night."