State tourism policy scrutinized by various concerned organizations

29 August 2010

Deepak Singh:
GANGTOK: The second and the final day of the Regional Consultation on Responsible Tourism in the North Eastern States of India took off from where it concluded on Thursday. It briefly discussed on the outcomes of Thursday’s discussion.
The outcome outlined that the tourism policies needed rethinking over. There was substantial amount of work to be done on the regulation, mechanism, administrative issues, look east policy and a master plan for law and policy. It also questioned the nature and form of tourism that the government talks about, it looked at the impact of tourism on society, culture, economy and ecology. The use of women and children for sex, trafficking was discussed again with specific focus on individual States of North East.
The day was used to discuss tourism policies of States of North East. States that had it in place, their draw backs and loop holes were pointed out and discussed and States without their tourism policy picked up important points and asked help from NGOs for drafting policy for their states. In fact, a question was raised if tourism policies were at all required? However, the main context of discussion stressed in making tourism sustainable, equitable and just.
The points that have been highlighted during the discussion would be discussed with the state tourism departments and the prevailing issues would be intervened. The issues could be those that already existed but were not addressed earlier or could have risen from the policies of the state tourism department.
Participants from each state presented the current issues prevailing and gave probable solutions to address them. In context of Meghalaya, the serious lack of infrastructure was highlighted and it was also brought to light that wherever there was some amount of expansion, they were lying unattended. The lack of consideration of climate and weather into development of tourism policies was also highlighted.
It was made very clear that the tourism department cannot take a corporate approach to its development. The development of tourism cannot take place at the cost of local culture and tradition. They are to be sustained and balanced with the development.
Capacity building, training programme and awareness were some of the common solutions that were proposed. The need to put in place a mechanism for checking the regulation of policies and participation at the grass root level were put at the top of the priority list to be discussed with state governments.
The next phase of the programme will be conducted in particular States of Northeast, where the policies and issues taken up during the discussion will be put forth the tourism departments. Probable strategies would be worked up and in the third stage; these proposed strategies would be sent for approval to the state or Central Government for implementation.