ETW STAFF – New Delhi
Looking at the increasing number of attacks on foreign tourists in India, the government has come up with a slew of measures to ensure the safety of tourists. In a bid to deal with these incidents and restore faith of foreigners, union tourism minister K Chiranjeevi has urged the state governments and Union Territories to set up tourist police, among others. Inaugurating the day-long National Conference of State Tourism Ministers in New Delhi recently, he said this can be done either by hiring ex-servicemen or home guards. The tourist police can be deployed in places where such incidents can happen.
Chiranjeevi added, “If in spite of our best efforts, such incidents occur, we must take immediate action to bring the culprits to the book and ensure speedy court trials. While doing so, we must show our sensitivity towards the feelings of the victim and respect their dignity and privacy.”
Referring to the recent incidents of assault on female tourists which has damaged the image of the country as a tourist destination, Chiranjeevi said, “It is not only important that we provide security to tourists but we must also instill a sense of confidence in them.”
Stressing on the need to improve cleanliness and hygiene to attract more tourists, Chiranjeevi informed, “The second important issue due to which India is losing business to other markets is cleanliness and hygiene. Heaps of garbage at tourist destinations, open defecation at beaches, morning soils on the railway tracks etc. discourage tourists. The problem is serious and if we fail to tackle it now, it may be too late.” The minister suggested that all states and Union Territory administrations declare tourist destinations as plastic free, ensure regular removal of garbage, build proper toilets to stop open defecation and sensitise the community about the need to keep the destinations clean.
Referring to the recent nature’s furry in Uttarakhand as unfortunate, the minister said, “While developing tourism destinations, we must keep in mind the principles of sustainability and carrying capacity.” He stressed on the need to take special care of religious places as large number of pilgrims congregate at a given time. “It is our responsibility that we must immediately assess the carrying capacity of various tourism destinations and address the sustainability issues. In case, some remedial measures are required, they must be taken before any disaster happens. Uttarakhand has been a warning to all of us,” he added.
Expressing concern over high tax structure on tourism products, the tourism minister said that he has initiated a dialogues with the finance ministry to rationalise taxes like VAT, Service Tax and Luxury Tax on tourism-related services. He also requested all states and UTs to take up the issue of rationalisation of state taxes with their counterpart in the Finance Department of the respective state.