Negative impact of promoting tourism on society to be discussed

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IMPHAL, June 15: A One day state consultation on ‘An Initiative Encouraging Responsible Tourism by Engaging Stakeholders in Manipur’ will be organized jointly by Eriema Gender Empowerment & Resource Centre for People’s Concern in collaboration with Impulse, Shillong supported by UNIGIFT (UNODC) with an objective to elaborate on a responsible tourism policy that will be implemented by all states in the Northeast at the Manipur Press Club tomorrow at 10 am.

The proposed consultation programme is a part of the ongoing efforts of the Impulse, Shillong to spread awareness to the common people of the region on the negative impacts and issues on environmental degradation in terms of exploitation of women and children in the process of development of tourism sectors in the region.

As the Impulse had conducted a series of consultation under separate themes including “Talks for change for making Tourism Sustainable, Equitable and Just’ Regional Consultation on Responsible Tourism in the North Eastern States of India’, which was held on August 26 and 27 last year at Gangtok, Sikkim which was supported by UNGIFT and technical support was provided by EQUITIONS, brought forward the follow up state consultation programmes which was organized at Sikkim on Jnauray 22 this year, on January 24 at Assam, on April 19 at Nagaland and on April 29 at Meghalaya.

It could be mentioned that, until the summer of 2010, various policies including the Look East Policy have promoted tourism as holding the potential to bring development to the North Eastern region.

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

In the meantime, the state consultation meeting tomorrow will discuss on how various stakeholders such as tour operators, hostellers, NGOs, law enforcing bodies, government departments such as labour, education, forest and environment, social welfare and tourism can play a role to carry forward in implementing a responsible tourism policy and making it workable.

On the other hand it is learnt from the organizing committee that the main objective for organizing such state consultative meeting is to elaborate a responsible tourism policy that will be implemented by each state in the Northeast, adapt and incorporate the Indian government Code of Conduct for safe and honourable tourism in every tourism policy and lobbying for it to be signed by every stakeholder and to elaborate, implement and monitor a training plan on human trafficking for tourism industry professionals.

Tour operators, hotel personnel, drivers, guides etc, will be trained to be able 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 choice, the source added.

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