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April 02, 2011

Responsible Tourism Drive in NE To Influence Govts


2 April 2011

An NGO from Shillong, Meghalaya is to organize consultations on Responsible Tourism in the state of Nagaland on April 19, 2011. Impulse NGO Network of Shillong is organizing the event in collaboration with its state partners, Community Educational Centre Society and Bethesda Youth Welfare Centre supported by UNGIFT (UNODC). The venue of the event would be announced later.

The objective of the consultations is to elaborate a Responsible Tourism policy that would be implemented by each state in the Northeast. The state government can be influenced to ‘adapt’ and incorporate the Indian Government Code of Conduct for Safe and honorable tourism in every tourism policy and lobbying for it to be signed by every stakeholder.

In addition, the consultations would seek to elaborate, implement and monitor a training plan on human trafficking for the tourism industry professionals. Tour operators, hotel personnel, drivers etc will be trained to react quickly “if suspicion arises in certain situations; they will be able to transmit information on human trafficking to domestic and international tourists, who will be in a better position to make better choices. 

The goal of the project is to encourage Responsible Tourism in the eight Northeastern states as well as in the West Bengal towns of Darjeeling and Siliguri, by engaging stakeholders, the NGO stated in a note today. “We seek to establish a regional responsible tourism policy and establish training for the tourism industry in the eight Northeastern states as well as in the West Bengal towns of Darjeeling and Siliguri on issues of human trafficking and introduce Code of Conduct for Safe and Honorable Tourism, adopted by Government of India on July 1st, 2010.”

The long-term goals are to prevent an increase in human trafficking due to increase tourism activities; establish a viable responsible tourism policy for every north Northeast state; establish a viable code of conduct for the tourism industry in every north Northeast state, plus Darjeeling and Siliguri; ensure that stakeholders are actively engaged in training the tourism industry on exploitation issues

The short-term objectives are to collaborate with the governments and the tourism industry in the North Eastern States and Eastern India, plus Darjeeling and Siliguri, to adopt measures to combat exploitation of children and women in the tourism industry. Likewise, train tourism industry professional in preventing and detecting human trafficking; create links between tourism industry professionals, the police forces and the NGOs in Northeastern states.  “The activities will make the states of the North East in charge of combating exploitation and will ensure policies of protection are in place before trafficking routes and sex tourism grow to uncontrollable levels,” the NGO stated.

The organizers are hoping for participation of officials from the departments of Labour, Tourism, Social Welfare, Education, Police, Environment & Forest, Health and Family Welfare, Border Areas, Cultural Affairs, Rural Management & Development, Urban Development, and NGOs.

The organization said various policies including the Look East Policy have been promoted as holding the potential to bring development to the North Eastern Region. Tourism in particular has hoped to be stimulated through such policy initiatives.

“As a result, many of the North Eastern states have developed tourism and ecotourism policies in the last few years. While all policies speak of the economic benefits of tourism, little is spoken on its negative impacts and issues on environmental degradation. None of these policies have clauses on responsible tourism regarding exploitation of women and children,” the NGO added.