At the 22nd Meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit on Friday in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, Varanasi was proposed as the first-ever SCO Tourism and Cultural Capital for the years 2022–2023.

Vinay Kwatra, the foreign secretary, announced the development during a press conference.

By designating Varanasi as the first-ever SCO Tourism and Cultural Capital, India and the SCO member countries will be encouraged to exchange tourists

It also highlights India's long-standing cultural ties to SCO members, particularly the Central Asian Republics.

A number of activities are planned for Varanasi as part of this outreach campaign. Participants in these activities will be invited from the SCO member nations. 

These activities are expected to draw Indologists, academics, writers, singers, and artists, as well as photojournalists, travel bloggers, and other invited guests.

Notably, the Dushanbe SCO Summit in 2021 established the rules for the designation of the SCO Tourism and Cultural Capital

.........with the goal of fostering cooperation between the SCO Member States in the areas of culture and tourism.

The SCO Summit 2002 took place in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, on September 15 and 16. After the 2019 Bishkek summit in Kyrgyzstan, it was the first summit to take place in person.

The chiefs of state of the SCO nations, India, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan,.......

........and Uzbekistan, attended the summit. The meeting also voted to grant Iran and Belarus permanent membership in the union.