Security paramount to improve tourism in India

Highlights

Security paramount to improve tourism in India. A ‘Seminar on Safety in Travel and Tourism’ was organised on Saturday. It was organised in the light of missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 in Indian Ocean.

A ‘Seminar on Safety in Travel and Tourism’ was organised on Saturday. It was organised in the light of missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 in Indian Ocean. GUG Shastry, COO, GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd, and Ashwini Sattaru, deputy passport officer, Regional Passport Office, were among the panelists.

GUG Shastry, who was also a former IPS officer, said, “India ranks in the first 10 positions in the world with respect to cultural history. Its rank is seventh in the world heritage sites. Geographically it is diverse. Cost of travel in India is very cheap compared to many countries in the world. These are an excellent combination of factors for India to be at the top in the world tourism index. Yet, as per the World Economic Forum survey, India ranks 68th among 139 countries in the global travel and tourism competitiveness index. As per UNWTO report, in 2012, India is ranked ninth in Asia Pacific with regard to tourist inflow, with an inflow of 6.6 million. The first in Asia was China, with an intake of 57.7 million.”
“Why is it so? Several reasons can be given for the same. However, the most important reason is the safety and security concerns while travelling in India,” Shastry added.
He highlighted the larger security concerns such as terrorism and law and order.
“The other personal security concerns include attacks, sexual offences against women, accidents particularly on roads, security of personal belongings – theft of belongings even in airports by co-passengers; complaints of fraud involving passports and travel documents; corruption; touting and harassment, fear of exposure to serious diseases and non-availability of safe drinking water and cleanliness,” informed Shastry.
“We definitely need a high level of security. However, the question is how should that security be provided, he questioned.
The biggest complaint against police and security personnel is that of harassment in the name of security. The expectation is, it should be unobtrusive security and with humane touch,” he recommended.
Securing passports
Ashwini Sattaru, deputy passport officer, Regional Passport Office, talking about passports thefts by fictitious police in some countries like Russia said, “Passengers need to be careful about these kind of problems. In the event of losing a passport abroad, travellers should approach the nearest Indian embassy office and get an emergency certificate, which is a white colour passport to travel back to the country. Passport is an essential travel document and awareness about the same needs to be created by the tourism industry.”
“The government is planning to issue e-passports, probably by June 2015. If such biometric e-passports are issued, many passport related crimes such as fake passports can be controlled,” she added.
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