The sensitization programs and awareness campaigns will begin immediately and the code of conduct for tour operators will be in place within 6 months.
The initiative is the first step towards the ministry's efforts to evolve a code of conduct for all tour operators. The initiative is also aimed at protecting Indian culture, values and heritage and the pave the way for a "long term sustainable and responsible tourism in India," a ministry release said.
The release said, "It is important and essential to enhance the country's image and add more value to the Incredible India Campaign. Ministry of Tourism will also work with National Commission for Women in this regard."
S. Vidya, project coordinator of EQUATIONS told AHN, "Problems like child abuse, prostitution, trafficking are all related to tourism. The abuse is not concentrated in a few places as is generally believed and also not traceable only to foreign tourists. We are emphasizing that there needs to be proper legislation and stringent mechanism to tackle the problem. Most importantly, the tourism ministry should acknowledge the problem and its relation to tourism and declare India as a zero tolerance area for child abuse."
More than 5 million annual foreign tourist travels to India every year. The domestic tourist sector sees 562 million visits a year.
Tourism contributes 6.23% to the India's national GDP and provides 8.78% of the total employment in India. The industry generated about $100 billion in 2008, which is predicted to increase to $275.5 billion by 2018.