Kumari Selja calls for zero tolerance to exploitation in tourism sector

New Delhi, Sep 27 (ANI): Union Minister of Tourism and Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Kumari Selja on Monday urged service providers and stakeholders in tourism sector to convey message of zero tolerance to any form of exploitation of women and children.

Kumari Selja informed that with more people travelling than ever before, the recent years have witnessed emerging concerns of crime and human right violations like never before.

"Such instances, of victims and perpetrators, have been amply highlighted by the media frequently. However, the definite lack of documentation of such trends, especially in India, poses an enormous challenge to the sustainability and growth of tourism. Our voluntary adoption of - Code of Conduct for Safe and Honourable Tourism - on 1st July 2010, has stemmed from the deep concern shared by the Government and the Industry Stakeholders," said Kumari Selja.

"The Code is a collaborative initiative between the Ministry of Tourism, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Save the Children India and the Pacific Asia Tourism Association (PATA). It aims to seal all possibilities of exploitation of all segments through sensitizing travelers and the travel industry. The code seeks to make India a safe and honourable tourism destination," she added.

Kumari Selja claimed the Code of Conduct for Safe and Honourable Tourism seeks to associate itself with redressal of a gamut of problems related directly or indirectly with tourism industry

"The Code aims at preventing sexual exploitation and other forms of social evils against women and children in particular. Prevention of activities related to forced or involuntary drug use, provision of manipulated or incorrect information, socio-cultural intolerance, etc. are also sought to be addressed in order to reduce vulnerability to crime," said Kumari Selja.

"We all have to understand that following safety guidelines is not merely about adhering to the provisions of the Code and following international standards on safe tourism practices. It is all about good business, developing faith through warm and ethical behaviour," she added.

Stakeholders in tourism sector signed a pledge on code of conduct for 'Safe and Honourable Tourism and Sustainable Tourism' here today.

Kumari Selja said the Code of Conduct for Safe and Honourable Tourism is an important tool to cultivate a net of safety and cultural sensitivity among service providers and their clientele.

"To carry forward the agenda set through adoption of the Code, extensive deliberations were held to develop an action plan on safe and honourable Tourism. This concerted effort has resulted in this path-breaking pledge that we have signed today," said Kumari Selja.

Through signing of this pledge on "Safe and Honourable Tourism" we are conveying a strong message to the world that neither we nor our organizations will be party to activities that exploit women and children. However, having signed the pledge, we should all endeavor even harder to create wider awareness towards strict compliance of provisions of the Code," she added.

Kumari Selja said the theme "Tourism and Biodiversity" for World Tourism Day 2010 is not only apt, but particularly significant.

"Concerned by the continued loss of biological diversity, the United Nations Assembly has declared 2010 the 'International Year of Biodiversity'. The year coincides with the target adopted by the world governments in 2002, to achieve by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of biodiversity loss. Our National Tourism Policy 2002 also echoes this sentiment," said Kumari Selja.

"The efforts to promote tourism have increased manifold globally during the past decade and, more so in India. The force of this surge ahead has heralded certain inevitable activities, which bear an obstructive and destructive imprint on the environment as a whole and on sustainability of the destination and safety of the visitors in particular," she added.

Minister of State for Tourism Sultan Ahmed was also present on the occasion. (ANI)

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