Registration of tourist trade, guides made must

State to have separate cadre of police force for protection of tourists

The State government has planned to regulate the tourism industry by proposing mandatory registration of tourism tra­des and tourist guides. Unregistered tourist trades and guides are liable to pay fines and/or face imprisonment.

The Karnataka Tourism Trade (Facilitation and Regulation) Bill of 2015, introduced in the Legislative Assembly on Friday, states that every category of tourism trade in tourist destination has to be mandatorily registered, recognised and graded in accordance with the State government rules and regulations. Defining “touts,” the bill states that any person acting as a tour guide without obtaining licence from prescribed authorities shall be liable to fine of up to Rs 2,000 and/or simple imprisonment of 15 days.

The Bill also states that activities such as begging or hawking articles for sale, abetting commission of any act of touting or malpractice against any tourist is also punishable. The punishment can stretch up to a prison term of six months and/or with fine of up to Rs 10,000.

Tourist Mitra

Tourism Trade Bill has introduced a separate cadre of police force called Tourist Mitra for protection of tourists. While the Bill does not state whether the Tourist Mitras will be hired directly or deputed from the police force. It has said that the force shall be deputed in tourist locations in consultation with the Deputy Commissioner of the district and Superintendent of Police in-charge of that area.

Tourist Mitras will be given a separate uniform, and a name tag to be worn on duty, apart from other accessories as may be determined. The Mitras will also be given a photo identity.

The Bill has also made provisions to the formation of a new State Tourism Council, with the chief minister as its chairperson and the tourism minister as its vice-chairperson. Besides, 10 bureaucrats and six private members with stakes in travel and tourism sector will also be part of the council.

The private members need to have at least 15 years of professional experience in the field. The council will act as the apex body in the matters related to development and promotion of tourism, make recommendations to government on matters related to the field, coordinate and support marketing of tourism conducted by government entities, work in collaboration with central government and neighbouring states to develop the sector.

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