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Tuesday, 18 December, 2018, 17 : 30 PM [IST]

‘Tourism stakeholders have to overcome ‘chalta hai attitude’ on matters of safety & security’

Speaking at a panel discussion dedicated to ‘Tourism: Safety and Security’ organised by the Indian Merchants Chamber, Subodh Jaiswal, Police Commissioner, Mumbai, urged tourism stakeholders in India to overcome the “chalta hai attitude” on matters of safety and security of tourists in India.

Tourism in India has shown phenomenal growth in the past years and is considered to be the biggest driver to the nation’s economic growth. Along with the huge growth, security and safety of tourists has become a complex and vulnerable issue. Lack of safety and security, and incidences of crime represent a more serious threat to travel and tourism, than any other factor. “There is a need to invest in the training and development of stakeholders to make them realise that the ‘chalta hai attitude’ has to go for our own betterment. One single incident created by any of the stakeholders can cause heavy damage for the tourism industry”, said Jaiswal.

“Looking at the numbers while issuing visas I can say, our own external tourism has growing exponentially over the years, but inward flow of foreign tourists for some reason has been stagnated. Terrorism is a phenomenon which has impacted the worldwide tourism industry adversely. However some countries have managed to overcome this challenge, through their infrastructure, and security. India also has the capability and capacity to do more, but somehow the effort is not maintained,” he added.

Nishith Mishra, Mumbai Additional Police Commissioner (protection and security), Neela Lad - Regional Director of India Tourism Mumbai, Gurbaxish Singh Kohli - President HRAWI, Karan Singh Anand - Head Relationship, Cox and Kings were part of the panel discussion.  The discussion was moderated by Sheldon Santwan, Editor and COO, Hospitality Biz & TravelBiz Monitor.

In lieu of the discussion, as pointed out by Santwan, it was observed that keeping the brand image of the country alive was the key to improve the perception of the country through marketing and responsible journalism. Lad on this note said, “We need major skilling at the grass-root level. Media should help us in projecting the right image of our country and not hype of the incidents that are not true to it.”

Lad also shed light on the outbound figures of India which have doubled over the years and the aspiration to increase the inbound as well, “Ministry of Tourism has identified a lot of issues and has been investing in improving infrastructure in the country. We need to instil confidence in our tourism.”

In terms of safety and security, Santwan put three sectors in focus; tourism sites, visitors and the staffing. Commenting on the same, Kohli said, “In the last 20 years tourism has had a paradigm shift and with that the definition of security and safety has altered too. As a stakeholder, while the industry has come to expect and should expect the state to provide a hygienic, a secure and a safe environment, it has become all the more our responsibility to partner with our law enforcing agencies, with media and the community at large to ensure that these standards are maintained.”

Contributing to the discussion about perception, Karan Singh Anand, Head - Relationships, Cox & Kings, questioned on how do we get more security and to do so it is required to bring a change in the bread and breakfast rule/scheme. A change in theme of the portrayal for tourism is long due, he said and as stakeholders, the tag of ‘Welcome to India’ is what the nation should be known for. He added, “The police needs to really help with two or three areas of concern that may come up tomorrow and not today, is food security and health security. Also, another sector that needs to be talked on is the pollution safety.” He suggested that a tie-up with the government will help the department make further progress in tourism.

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