States directed to ensure tourists' safety

It has also asked the states to constitute monitoring committees to oversee speedy implementation of tourism projects so that the industry can develop at a faster rate.

The Central directives came during Kumari Selja’s speech after inaugurating the first-ever regional conference of the state tourism ministers on Tuesday.

“The growth of tourism sector would depend on the inflow of the domestic and foreign tourists that could be ensured only when we are able to provide them with safe environment.The moot question is : Are we able to provide such a kind of pleasant atmosphere for the tourists?” the Minister asked.

The Tourism Ministry has asked the states to deploy tourist police to provide security to tourists, and till now Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jammu & Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa have deployed tourist police, she noted.

Tardy progress

However, even though guidelines for formation of Tourist Security Organisations, comprising primarily of ex-servicemen, were forwarded to all states and Union Territories in May last year, the progress in this regard has been tardy, she pointed out.

The minister said that for speedy implementation of tourism projects, state-level monitoring committees should be constituted in each state that would regularly monitor and send quarterly or half-yearly status reports to her ministry.

Tourist inflow will remain poor if the assets created are not properly maintained but also kept unclean and in unhygienic conditions, she said.

The conference is the first of its kind to streamline the sector, with the Central ministry discussing with the state ministers issues like luxury tax, broad-basing of hospitality education, creation of the land banks and seamless travel.

Selja said the manpower employed in the sector had increased from 44.7 million to 51.1 million from 2004-05 to 2006-07, foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs) has increased by 5.6 per cent in 2008 over 2002, and foreign exchange earnings have increased to $11,747 million in 2008 from $ 3,103 million in 2002.

The downturn in FTAs since November, 2008 due to the Mumbaiterrorist attack and economic slowdown has been reversed since June, she said.

DH News Service

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