This will encourage tourism, cultural, and humanitarian exchanges between India and the SCO member countries

The Indian city of Varanasi has been nominated as the first-ever SCO Tourism and Cultural Capital during the calendar year 2022–2023 at the 22nd Meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Council of Heads of State in Samarkand, Uzbekistan on Friday.

Prior to this, India's Foreign Secretary, Vinay Kwatra also revealed this during the press briefing. He said,

"PM Modi thanked all the members states of the SCO for endorsing Varanasi (Kashi) as the first-ever SCO tourist and cultural capital during the upcoming year 2022-23."

Prime Minister Modi participated in the summit along with his counterparts from other participatory states.

By designating Varanasi as the first-ever SCO Tourism and Cultural Capital, India and the SCO member countries would be encouraged to exchange tourists, artists, and other cultural and humanitarian goods. It also highlights India's long-standing cultural ties to SCO members, particularly the Central Asian Republics.

According to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), a variety of events will be held in Varanasi between 2022 and 2023 as part of this significant cultural outreach initiative, for which guests from the SCO Member States will be invited to attend.

It is anticipated that these events will draw Indologists, academics, writers, singers, and artists, as well as photojournalists, travel bloggers, and other invited visitors.

The regulations for nomination of the SCO Tourism and Cultural Capital were adopted at the Dushanbe SCO Summit in 2021 with an objective of promoting cooperation between the SCO Member States in the field of culture and tourism.