Published on: July 21, 2022



Why in news?

The holy city of Varanasi, showcasing India’s culture and traditions over the ages, will be declared the first “Cultural and Tourism Capital” of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.


  • The Beijing-headquartered Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is an eight-member economic and security alliance comprising China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan.
  • Varanasi will become the “Cultural and Tourism Capital” of the SCO for 2022-23 under a new rotating initiative by the eight-member organisation to promote people-to-people contacts and tourism among the member states.Varanasi, India’s ancient city, will be the first to be granted the title.
  • India hosted the Head of the Government of the SCO meet in 2020.
  • The SCO member states were considering several initiatives to promote tourism to enhance people-to-people contacts once the COVID-19 travel restrictions ease.
  • Kazakhstan has announced a visa-free policy for tourists from India and other countries,

About the initiative:

  • Under this initiative, each year, a city of the cultural heritage of a member country that will take over the rotating Presidency of the organisation will get the title to highlight its prominence.
  • The new initiative will come into force after the Samarkand summit following which India will take over the Presidency and host the next Heads of the State summit.