Selja writes to states to promote safe tourism

New Delhi, Oct 20 (Calcutta Tube) Safety of visitors is on top of Tourism Minister Kumari Selja’s mind. She has written to all states and union territories, urging them to promote safe tourism to make India a popular tourist destination.

In her letter, the minister also expressed concern about incidents of abuse against women and children.

‘You will agree that with the growth of tourism, there are rising concerns related to safety and security of tourist as well as local population and in particular women and children. There have been some stray incidents of child abuse, illegal human trafficking and drug abuse reported from some destinations in the country,’ Selja said in her letter.

‘We in the ministry realise that this initiative cannot be carried forward successfully unless there is a proactive participation of the state governments and UT administrations and the stakeholders at various tourist destinations,’ she said.

She stressed on the need to ‘sensitise travellers, travel industry and citizens about the tenets of safe and honourable tourism’ so that all possibilities of exploitation, especially against women and children, are removed.

‘We need to ensure that India remains a safe tourism destination,’ she added.

‘In this background, I would request you to kindly take forward this initiative in the state/UT with active involvement of the official machinery as well as private sector through widespread adoption of the Code of Conduct,’ she wrote.

Selja also promised financial and technical support.

The ministry in July had launched ‘Safe and Honourable Tourism’, which is applicable to owners, suppliers, contractors and employees of the travel and tour sector including hotels, restaurants, lodges, guest houses, tour agents and entertainment establishments.

The guidelines – the first of its kind in the country – were launched at a time when the country saw three incidents of rape involving two Dutch women and a Brazilian woman.

It also aims to ‘encourage tourism with respect for basic rights like dignity, safety and freedom from exploitation of both tourists and local residents’.

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

The guidelines also aim to prevent undesirable activities like forced or involuntary drug use, manipulated and incorrect information, and cultural and social intolerance which could increase vulnerability to crime.

Around 3.8 million tourists have visited India till September this year, showing a 10 percent rise as compared to the corresponding month last year.

In 2008, 5.28 million tourists came to India as compared to 5.11 million in 2009.

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