India adopts code for safe tourism

New Delhi, July 1 (IANS) India Thursday released a code for the safety of the millions of foreign tourists visiting the country every year.

The Code of Conduct for Safe and Honourable Tourism – the first of its kind in the country – comes at a time when the country has seen three incidents of rape involving two Dutch women and a Brazilian woman recently.

The code was released by union Minister for Tourism Kumari Selja here.

The minister said the code was a guideline to ‘encourage tourism with respect for basic rights like dignity, safety and freedom from exploitation of both tourists and local residents’.

The World Travel & Tourism Council, which surveyed 174 countries, predicts that tourism in India will grow by 8.8 percent on an average over the next decade.

A brief document released by the tourism ministry said the aim of the code was to ‘aid the prevention of prostitution, sex tourism and forms of sexual exploitation like assaults and molestations to safeguard tourists – women and children in particular.’

The code also recommends stringent measures against ‘involuntary drug abuse, manipulated and incorrect information, cultural and social intolerance that increases vulnerability to crime’.

‘The code will ensure that Indian tourism follows international standards of safe practices – applicable to both tourists and local communities who may be impacted by tourism in some way. The code will assist signatories to build capacities among their service chains and personnel so as to respond to the demand,’ Selja said.

The guidelines would be applicable to all the owners, suppliers, contractors and employees of the travel and tour sector including hotels, restaurants, lodges, guest houses, tour agents and entertainment establishments. Service providers will also come under its ambit.

‘At the core of the code is awareness building,’ the minister said.

Hotel managements and tour operators will maintain two people as focal points to ensure that all safety norms and guidelines of this code are adhered to.

The officers will shall provide correct information to tourists like information on child lines – 1098, women’s help lines – 1091 and local police helplines – 100.

The pointsmen will act as a liaison with the local police and immigration authority, women and child welfare committees and civil society partner to ensure safe tourism.

In case of an incidents of exploitation, ‘personnel will be sensitised to report correct information with law enforcement agencies and other agencies providing care and support’.

‘Identified victims (abused tourists) will not be treated as criminals. They should be identified as persons in need of care and protection and should be provided with legal, medical, psycho-social and assistance without delay,’ the document on safe tourism said.

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