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EQUATIONS September 2008
This paper provides a comprehensive analysis of the Planning Commission’s XI Five Year Plan’s Tourism Report. While appreciating certain positive trends in the Report, we appeal to the Planning Commission to consider an approach that is more broad-based and inclusive. Concerns such as, who grows, who benefits, who is harmed by tourism’s unrestricted and unregulated growth, is tourism non-exploitative, is it socially just and equitable and are its processes of planning and implementation democratic, need to be addressed if we are to see tourism in the XI Plan truly inclusive and people centred. This, we believe, will do justice to an activity that is ultimately based on people – the tourist and the communities visited. We highlight the insufficient attention paid to impacts tourism has had on specific constituencies (like women, children, tribals, dalits, other minorities), labour issues, the lack of strategies to ensure sustainable tourism, the role of government in tourism infrastructure development, and the need to bring in sharper perspectives and positions on ecotourism and climate change. I. Constitution of the Working Group and Steering Committee on Tourism for the XI Five Year Plan At the outset, we would like to comment on the membership of the two important bodies – the Working Group (WG) and the Steering Committee (SC) constituted by the Planning Commission to work on the Tourism Report for the XI Five Year Plan. There are commonalities and important differences in membership to the two bodies that we would like to highlight. a. Central Government Representatives: Largest Representation in WG and SC • Both the WG and SC have significant membership of senior bureaucrats of different departments/ministries that the Planning Commission has considered important to input into the tourism sector report. The Working Group has 24 bureaucrats from different central ministries like Tourism, Culture, Civil Aviation, Finance, Environment and Forests Home Affairs, External Affairs, Shipping and Road Transport & Highways. In comparison, the Steering Committee has 12 bureaucrats some from the same ministries and a few additional ones like Youth & Sports Affairs and Revenue. • Representatives of important central government public corporations like the Tourism Finance Corporation of India, Indian Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC), Air India, Indian Airlines in the WG with only the latter two in the SC. • In both the WG and SC, membership from central-level bureaucrats forms the highest proportion within the Group and Committee – (24/46 in the WG) and (11/31 in the SC). It must be appreciated that, by inviting senior government officials from a wide range of relevant central-level ministries and departments, the Planning Commission has made efforts to factor in the cross-linkages and interdependencies that characterise tourism development. • However, it is disheartening to see the absence of membership from certain other central-level ministries who also are important stakeholders in the process of tourism development in this country. These include the Ministry of Commerce, the Ministry of Women and Child Welfare and the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. The Ministry of Commerce negotiates on behalf of the country international multilateral, regional and bilateral trade and investment agreements where, in recent years, tourism has been an important area of negotiations within the GATS ( The General Agreement on Trade in Services). It is difficult to comprehend the absence of the MoC in the Tourism Working Group Membership. The Ministry of Women and Child Welfare, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, and Ministry of Panchayat Raj, have as their constituencies, some important sections of our society who are deeply impacted by tourism development – women, children tribal/indigenous communities (including nomadic and denotified tribes), dalits and people with disabilities. By virtue of their social, economic and cultural vulnerability, and consistent marginalisation these constituencies have been impacted by tourism – more negatively than positively. This has for instance, been highlighted in the reports of the Working Group and Steering Committee on Women and Child Development for the XI Five Year Plan. It is critical that these important Ministries are members of Tourism WG and SC and that processes of inviting their experiences and views are taken into account. b. State Government Representatives: Missing from the Steering Committee • In a progressive step, the Planning Commission has invited representatives of the Tourism Departments of five states – Kerala, Rajasthan, Orissa, Assam and Maharashtra into the Working Group. 1
The criteria for invitation to these five states alone, is unclear and one only assumes that it is on the basis of the relative “success” of tourism in these states. However, it is again quite incomprehensible why the Steering Committee has no representation from the states. This indeed, is against the spirit of decentralisation of the planning process in the country. Tourism as such is neither in the union or state or concurrent lists of the Constitution (but lobbying is on to place it in the concurrent list notwithstanding opposition from few states), which means that both the central and state governments have equal mandate to initiate projects, policies or even legislate on tourism issues. The complete absence of any state government representation in the Steering Committee is highly objectionable. Further, there is no representation from local self-governing institutions (panchayats, municipalities and grama sabhas) - which in themselves play very important roles in developing and regulating tourism at the local level - in both the WG and SC. But even without state representation, the membership of the SC has reflected a tendency towards centralising the tourism planning process which in itself seems a regressive move.
c. Members of Parliament and State Legislative Assemblies: conspicuous by their absence from both WG and SC Elected representatives from the central, state or local level find no representation in either the Working Group or Steering Committee for Tourism. So much so, that even the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture has none of its members on either of the SC or WG. By Act (Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha), Standing Committees of the Parliament are permanent and regular committees mandated with the function of, among other things, consideration of national basic long term policy documents of the relevant Ministry/Department to guide the work of the Executive. The Committee has been active in the last few years with reviewing the work of the Executive, providing suggestions and recommendations and flagging off issues of concern to the Ministry of Tourism. Therefore, their non-representation does not respect the Parliamentary mandate of these Committees and is undemocratic by giving no space for elected representatives. d. Industry Membership • The Planning Commission has invited into both the Working Group and Steering Committee, representatives of leading industrial lobbies and tourism industry associations to be members. These include representatives of the Domestic Tour Operators Association, Travel Agents Association of India, Indian Tourist Transport Operators Association, Hotel Association of India (HAI), Indian Association of Tour Operators ( IATO), Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Association of India, Adventure Tour Operators’ Association. • In addition, the Steering Committee has representatives of FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry) and CII (Confederation of Indian Industry) – the country’s two leading industry lobbies as members. • It would have been important to consider representation of other players in the industry who might not be large scale tour operators or hoteliers, but whose contribution to and stake in tourism is undeniable. These include organisations and associations of hawkers, self-help groups (mostly women), and community owned entrepreneurship ventures that are successful, locally oriented and more representative of local initiatives in tourism. The unorganised sector is a critical sector in the tourism economy. The WG and SC would have also benefited with the inputs of those industry representatives who have engaged with developing ecologically and culturally sensitive, community-benefiting and capacity-building models in tourism in India. Also the tourism teaching and research institutions do not have representation. These representatives would have been particularly useful considering the specific thrust in the ToR of the WG on socio-economic development, employment generation in backward areas through tourism and factoring in environmental impacts and carrying capacity in tourism development. e. Representation of International Bodies • Both the WG and SC have as members Mr. M P Bebaruah (Permanent Representative of United Nations World Tourism Organisation) and Mr Ashwini Kakkar (Chairman, World Travel and Tourism Council India). While representation from the UNWTO a UN agency to provide a global perspective, factor in international trends the application of progressive international frameworks as guidelines for tourism development in India, is understandable, the need for membership of a private body albeit one of that of the worlds business leaders in the travel and tourism industry continues to tilt the privileges of the premier segment of big business in the country’s planning process. f. Individual Members: Criteria for Selection and Role Unclear 2
Both the WG and SC have several individuals, invited by the Planning Commission to be members on these bodies. While in many cases (Lalit Suri, S M H Rehman, Cyrus Guzder, Ranjit Barthakur, Jose Dominic, Raymond Bickson) they seem to represent the hospitality industry and allied services, the criteria for selection of some others is unclear. Whether they are in some representational role or in their individual capacities, the specific criteria employed in their selection as members, and the specific competencies they are expected to deploy in the WG and SC is not clear.
g. Other Institutions • The WG also has representatives of INTACH and NCAER both independent non-profit organisations that have substantial corporate membership as members. Non profit organisations that operate in the civil society space and provide research and policy advocacy inputs into tourism development and policy also have not been not considered for membership nor a process been solicited for their views to be taken into account. In overall terms, the constitution of the Working Group and Standing Committee on Tourism for the XI Five Year Plans does not comprehensively represent the diverse issues that tourism needs to address or the constituencies it relies on and impacts. It reflects a significant bias towards the viewpoint and perspectives of bureaucrats and industry representatives without adequate efforts to elicit views of other important stakeholders. The effort to reach out to community representatives, including Panchayat members who have made some landmark achievements, and have significant responsibility in relation to tourism development at the local level is not evident. It has not given space for elected representatives, community representatives or other organisations that work with communities impacted by tourism. Significant among these are the absence of women and of trade union (organised and unorganised) worker representatives from the sector. This lacuna in membership is probably the reason why, despite the ToR clearly directing the Working Group to review the priority of tourism towards socio-economic development, the WG Report has not been able to come up with concrete recommendations that can direct tourism growth to local economic development.
II. Terms of Reference of the Working Group and Steering Committee on Tourism for the XI Five Year Plan The Terms of Reference of the Working Group and Steering Committee provide important insights into the thinking of the Planning Commission on the issues linked to tourism that the next Five Year Plan must address. Between the two, the ToR of the Working Group is more comprehensive and covers a wider array of issues and questions. In comparison, the ToR of the Steering Committee focuses on fewer issues like developing an inter-ministerial strategy to tourism, incentives & concessions to industry, status of overseas promotion offices and encouraging domestic tourism. a. Focus of the ToR of the WG and SC A classification of the ToR of the Working Group under broad aspects of tourism it addresses is below. • Infrastructure & Connectivity: 4 specific points related to civil aviation (point iv), road connectivity (point v), accommodation requirements (point x) and trained manpower requirement (point xi) • Tourists and Source Markets: 3 specific points related to foreign source markets (point vii), targets for volume of domestic and international tourists (point viii) and length of stay of tourists (point ix) • Product Development, specific areas of focus & Circuits: 3 specific points related to identifying priority areas and products (point iii), assessing the tourism circuit approach (point xiv) and specific focus on tourism development in the Northeast region(point xviii) • Investment, Incentives & Concessions: 2 points related to reviewing private sector participation in tourism (point vi), assess level of investment needed by MoT and private sector (point xii) • Benefits from tourism (socio-economic development, employment): 2 specific points relating to reviewing the role of tourism as a tool for employment generation and socio-economic development in the states (point ii) and estimating the direct and indirect employment gains from tourism (point xiii). Apart from the above classification, there are few standalone points related to reviewing the National Tourism Policy, need for Government of India Overseas Tourist Offices and taking into account recommendations and findings of other committees and bodies, especially Parliamentary committees when formulating the report. The Steering Committee has a ToR that addresses five particular issues: • Review the achievements of the X Plan on Tourism 3
• • • •
Developing an inter-ministerial integrated approach to tourism in collaboration with ministries/ departments/ agencies, whose activities impinge on tourism development Review the need for Overseas Tourist Offices Review incentives and other concessions given to the tourist industry Identify measures to encourage domestic tourism
The focus of the ToR of both the WG and SC are related to those aspects of tourism linked to marketing, promotion, investment, growth, and infrastructure of the sector. Insufficient attention has been paid to assessing the nature of tourism development in this country, positive and negative impacts it has had on people at large and specific constituencies (like women, children, tribals, dalits, other minorities), and its ability to generate local development and prosperity. b. ToR not taken into account all relevant issues in Tourism that need to be addressed in the XI Five Year Plan It is critical to note that the ToR of these two bodies have failed to address some critical issues related to tourism development. The most glaring lacuna is of assessing the impacts (both positive and negative) of tourism development in India over the last decades. In the absence of a comprehensive impact assessment, future plans and policies run the risk of being disconnected from the ground and actual experiences and needs of people from and in relation to tourism. The other important socio-economic issues linked to tourism but which do not find mentions in either ToR are: • labour issues (like gender discrimination in the industry, informal vs. formal sector, contract labour, rights of workers, child labour, labour standards, unionisation); • gender issues and the role of women (role of women in tourism, empowerement of women through tourism, participation of women in decision-making on tourism issues); • role of the informal sector in tourism The ToR are also ambiguous in their reference to issues of “socio-economic development through tourism”, “environmental impacts” of tourism as it seems that these terms have been introduced without a clear demand for workable recommendations on how to achieve them. This is probably the reason why the Working Group report does not make any clear-cut suggestions on these issues and pays them perfunctory attention in their report. c. Recommendations of the Working Group Report in Tune with Demands of the ToR We see that while the ToR does highlight certain important issues, it is inherently biased towards seeking recommendations on the investment, promotional, concessions and infrastructure needs of a part of the sector. However, an analysis of the recommendations of the Working Group itself reveals that it has not duly addressed all points of the ToR as it is required to do. Below is an analytical table comparing the points of the ToR as against the recommendations given in the Working Group Report:
Terms of Reference of the Working Group 1. To review the performance of the tourism sector with reference to the strategy and objectives of the Tenth Plan together with issues identified in the MTA and to suggest a plan for the promotion of tourism in the Eleventh Plan.
Recommendations of the Working Group w.r.t ToR WG’s review of tourism performance during X Plan period: • Products developed: Rural tourism, heritage tourism, ecotourism, shopping paradise, adventure tourism, pilgrim centres • High focus on international marketing and promotion • Financial support to states for infrastructure development, focussed circuits • Research: TSA commissioned The WG report does not directly address the issue of employment generation and socio-economic development through tourism through the perspective of the states. But some of the references in the report on a general level are:
2. To review the priority given to the tourism sector as an instrument of employment generation and socio-economic development by the States in rural and backward areas by developing infrastructure for agro, heritage, cultural and eco-tourism. 4
• 3. To identify priority areas for development of tourism during the Eleventh Plan period based on a master plan and to assess prospects of new tourism products like health tourism
As instrument of employment generation: o promotion of adventure tourism (in far flung areas) o ensuring long-term economic operations in tourism o Enacting a Tourism Conservation and Preservation of Areas Act o Projects from states for central funding should consider all aspects – ecology, capacity building Socio-economic development: o Rural villages: rural tourism (software and hardware components) o No other specific review or direct recommendations suggested linking tourism to socio-economic development No clear links of recommendations to rural areas and backward areas Infrastructure, HRD & capacity building, product development, publicity & marketing, access and connectivity, taxation, incentives and concessions, sustainable tourism, ecotourism, monitoring, research and statistics. New products identified: MICE, medical, cruise, rural, heritage No clarity or explanation in report of what the Master Plan is – only region specific master plans Reduce domestic air fares further Reduce staff/passenger ratio to cut costs More liberalised aviation policy – “more and more international airlines to be allowed without the reciprocation clause” Cut air turbine fuel 50 gateways for international flights each of 29 states to have at least 1 international airport air charters to be liberalised 18 sectors opened up for ASEAN countries: more to be explored More direct flights to/from Japan/Korea Encourage domestic operators to fly more to specific circuits: Bikaner-Agra Foreign airlines to be approached to run their flights to Agra, Bodhgaya, Goa Charter operation guidelines to be eased No reference to evaluation of the liberalisation of the national civil aviation policy in the report Roads to certain specific circuits need more attention (Delhi – Agra; Agra – Fatehpur Sikri) All World Heritage sites to be well connected to national highways Experts from South Africa for park management Industry to sign on to environmental code book developed by MoT Adventure tourism: waiver of taxes, subsidy on imports, soft loans to private entrepreneurs
• • • • •
4. To review the impact of liberalization of civil aviation policy on tourist arrivals and to suggest further steps to enhance tourist arrivals to the country.
• • • • • • • • • • • 5. To review the road connectivity requirements to tourist destinations and suggest measures to improve connectivity to existing and potential destinations. 6. To review the extent of private participation and investment for tourism promotion taking into account environmental impact studies and the carrying capacity of tourist destinations using instruments of spatial and 5 • • • •
land use planning and architectural control.
7. To make an assessment of the foreign tourism markets and to identify the reasons for low volume of tourist traffic to the country compared to neighbouring countries.
Suggested building guidelines to be drawn up for all regions (beaches, hills) • Undertake carrying capacity studies for popular eco destinations to maintain low environmental impact • Effective steps for garbage disposal at state level through municipalities: Kovalam Zero Waste • Use tools like Tourism Impact Assessment for assessing impacts Reasons identified in the WG report: • poor infrastructure • high hotel tariffs • inadequate connectivity New markets to be focussed on • Fiji, Maldives, Malaysia, South Africa with high Indian diaspora • Japan, China, South Korea • Brazil, Argentina • Israel •
8. To assess the likely tourist flows and project the targets for international and domestic tourism during the Eleventh Plan. 9. To suggest measures for increasing the period of stay/spending by tourists so as to create more employment and income generating opportunities at selected destinations
Achieve international visitor levels of 10 million in 2011 Achieve a level of 760 million for domestic tourist visits by the year 2011, the end of 11th Plan at an annual average growth of 12%. Focus on tourists from high spending countries Prepare strategies to increase nonaccommodation per capita spending (i.e. on shopping) to 30% of total expenditure Promote business related travel Make tourism a year-round activity Estimate of required rooms: 200,000 rooms Need for more budget category hotels Creation of land banks within the MoT for easing land requirements Additional accommodation through bed and breakfast, guest houses, paying guest Higher FSI (Floor Space Index) for expanding hotels properties Introduce craft/hotel management as an early vocational course More teachers required Capacity building of service providers NCHMCT: regulatory powers Product-specific courses Four more IHMs, 20 more FCIs No specific estimate of projected requirements No specific figure for investment requirements Incentives and Subsidies for promoting investment: o Rationalisation of taxes o IT Act 80- 1A status for tourism facilities o Industry to be given a no tax regime for 10 years o Tax free overseas promotion and publicity o Service tax on ‘service charges’ and not total
• • • • • • • • 11. To review the working of hospitality training institutes and to project the trained man power requirements and training facilities during the Plan period • • • • • • • •
10. To make an assessment of the accommodation requirements, both in the star and budget category, and the requirements of transportation and other facilities commensurate with the projected volume of tourist traffic.
12. To assess the investments to be made by the Ministry of Tourism as well as by the private sector for provision of tourist facilities to the level of international standards, including hotels, at the potential destinations and circuits.
FBT: rationalised for the whole tourism sector
13. To estimate direct and indirect employment expected to be generated in the sector during the plan period. 14. To review the impact of existing Plan schemes, particularly the progress of tourism circuit approach, and the need for modifications, if any.
No estimates of direct and indirect employment generation Identification of 6 circuits/10 destinations every year Rs 100 crore suggested for circuit development Infrastructure development in circuits to be done under centrally sponsored scheme Circuit specific roadway/airway improvement WG does not seemed to have reviewed the circuit approach but many recommendations actually conform to/promote the circuit approach in terms of infrastructure development, allocation of funds More tourist offices to be set up in emerging markets like Russia Vacancies in overseas offices to be filled immediately Consider private industry, state government reps for overseas offices
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15. To examine the need to continue Government of India Overseas Tourist Offices in the context of effective overseas publicity through internet and electronic media.
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16. While formulating recommendations for the 11th Plan, take into account the recommendations, suggestions and findings of various committees including Parliamentary committee, studies, etc. 17. To review the national tourism policy and suggest modifications, if any, required. 18. To review the progress of tourism development in the North-Eastern region and to make suggestions. • No specific points of review of NTP (national tourism policy) made Special Task Force to explore heritage and culture tourism in NE region 10% of budget outlay Subsidies for adventure, cultural, heritage, ecotourism
• • •
The above table indicates that critical points of the ToR that pertain to linking tourism plans to local community benefit, assessing the form of tourism development and impacts of tourism have not been matched with specific recommendations by the Working Group in its report. For example: while one can say that the Report has touched on sustainable tourism, no clear recommendations have emerged that can be linked to the ToR requirement of assessing the environmental impact and carrying capacity of the tourist destinations. Similarly, the report has nothing specific to offer in response to point (ii) of the ToR that asks it to review the priority given by tourism to socio-economic development in backward areas. But there are several aspects, which although have not be specifically pointed out by the ToR, the Working Group report elaborates in detail. These include product development of heritage and culture tourism and a thorough review and recommendations of the incentive and concession structure and requirements of the industry. The Planning Commission website carries a disclaimer saying that recommendations and views of the various Steering Committees/Working Groups are of the Committees/Groups themselves and cannot be subscribed to the Planning Commission. But undoubtedly, the Commission will draw from these reports in formulation of the XI Five Year Plan. We hope that in this process, the above points are noted and the Commission endeavours to address the lacunae in the Working Group’s ToR and Report. III. Comments and Inputs into the Report of the Working Group on Tourism 1. Aim / Objectives/Purpose: Summary of Main Objectives, Thrust areas, Intended Purpose, Likely Beneficiaries
The Working Group report sets ‘quantifiable’ ambitions for the growth of the tourism sector in the next five years. What is not evident is the process that central and state governments will adopt to achieve these goals and whether these will respect democratic and sustainable principles and practices. The Working Group itself recommends that sustainable practices and methods are to be adopted but what exactly these are have not been detailed. In its enthusiasm to achieve the targets for international and domestic tourist arrival and revenue generation, a few methods suggested might lead to unsustainable and adverse impacts if caution is not borne. We are flagging off some of these below: • Tapping new international markets: we support the belief that the country needs to widen its international tourist base, which has thus far relied unsustainably on European tourists. However, in its selection of “principal source markets” that the government should focus on (South Africa, Israel, Spain, China, Japan, S. Korea, Australia, Brazil, Argentina), the rationale adopted by the Working Group is not clear. For example, it is unclear whether the identification of these markets has been done on the basis of market research on their interest in India as a destination, higher-spending tourists, connectivity to India or any other reason. Tourism is meant to be a vehicle of promoting peace harmony fraternity and respect. In choosing to target some countries as source countries, the signals of need for greater closeness of the Indian state to the Israeli state is possibly also being sent out. This is unfortunate when the Israeli state has refused to uphold these principles of justice and peace and respect in its own geographical area. It is certainly important to distinguish clearly between the state and the individual tourist. However, apart form the political reasons that direct current Indian foreign policies, the record of Israeli tourists to India (in different destinations like the Andamans, Kodagu in Karnataka, Manali, Goa) indicates that they do not make much contribution to the local economy but that in fact, they behaviour at times has adversely affected local communities and youth. In a recent news item1 , the Goa government has referred 150 cases of property acquisitions by foreigners to the Reserve Bank of India, after an internal investigation by the state police found evidence of FEMA (Foreign Exchange Management Act) violations. A special committee was set up last year by the state government to investigate property acquisitions in Goa by foreigners, after 482 such cases were brought to the notice of the state assembly. Reports of Russian and Israeli land mafia and enclavised territories are not uncommon, and these factors need to be taken into account by the Ministry as well. It might therefore be useful if, the Working Group and Planning Commission, in consultation with the Ministry of Tourism clearly lays down criteria for identification of principal international source markets that might concentrate on those tourists who spend more in the local economy and might have a strong inclination towards community-owned/community-based/community-driven initiatives. Some of the forms of tourism which the Working Group recommends i.e. Cruise Tourism and MICE tourism – need more careful scrutiny of how they contribute to local economy. These forms, while having the potential of attracting large number of visitors at one shot, especially because per capita expense by the tourist is far less than when they are on a regular holiday, are also infrastructure heavy. The experience with cruise tourism of international destinations like the Caribbean reveals that revenue spent on cruises often do not translate into local economy benefit. MICE tourism has the potential to attract business tourists but yet again, its direct linkages to the local economy are not proven. Medical Tourism has no proven benefit to the local community and may actually have an adverse impact as it may lead to greater preference to international clientele leaving local people finding medical treatment out of their reach. Also in a country where basic primary health is inaccessible to a large section of the population, the focus of the government on promoting medical tourism seems incongruous and misplaced. The Working Group further recommends that to achieve its targets in the accommodation sector, ideas like creation of land banks in states and providing single window clearance need to be explored. Both the proposals need reconsideration. On the question of land banks – the country is already witnessing a crisis with the government’s SEZ policy that has brought to the forefront the question of state governments auctioning and leasing out land that communities depend on for livelihood and sustenance for industrial and commercial activity at skyrocketing prices. In a country where the land reform process is still in progress, a move such as creating land banks for any industry is highly questionable. Also the intense debate around the dubious use of the land acquisition act and complete lack of justice in resettlement and rehabilitation of millions of its citizens leaves much to be desired in the record of the government. While the government does have a facilitative role to play in bringing in investment into tourism, it should not take on the role of being a land broker/banker to further the commercial interests of the corporate sector. The second proposal of working with a single window clearance has been contested previously by communities, local self-governing bodies and even few state governments in the context of previous policies. The intention of single window clearance systems is to expedite the process of starting a venture/business by
reducing delays in obtaining clearances and avoiding interface with multiple agencies. But this process often means bypassing significant institutions/bodies/process to seek public participation and consent to the relevant projects. It is a process where decisions are made that significantly compromise environmental and social justice concerns as well as political and constitutional rights and thereby critically undermine access to a reasonable quality of life and environment for all. With Tourism being exempted from scrutiny of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process under the new EIA Notification passed by MoEF last year the concerns have become grave with respect to tourism developments. 2. Comments on the Strategic Objectives: a. Positioning and Maintaining Tourism Development as a National Priority Activity More clarity is needed as to what exactly is meant by this objective. Does this imply that the government is going to give tourism more importance than other current main economic activities and other important social development priorities? If so why? The point on increasing effective coordination between various Ministries and Departments is welcome but we would urge that this list needs to be extended beyond those departments that can help in tourism promotion (like Civil Aviation, Shipping, Roads and Highways) to also those which can ensure that tourism develops responsibly and sustainably. (like Environment and Forests, Women and Child Development, Tribal Affairs, Social Justice and Empowerment , Rural Development and Panchayat Raj) b. Enhancing and Maintaining the Competitiveness of India as a Tourist Destination • Rationalisation of taxes: While it is commonly held that hotels and hospitality is one of the most over-taxed sectors, this is not entirely true. Rationalisation of taxes needs to maintain the fine balance between the actual subsidy needs of the industry and the revenue to state and local governments from tourism and hospitality sectors. While multiple taxation needs to be avoided and economic incentives are still needed to support local initiatives in tourism, we believe governments should not compromise on the role that the hospitality sector continues to play as an important source of revenue, especially for state and local governments. Today, with an increasing portfolio of investors entering tourism – including real estate giants, private hospitals, travel agencies and IT companies; the justification to give broad and wide-ranging tax concessions to all investment in tourism is not even persuasive let alone valid. It might also be advantageous to address sustainability goals if the government could think of drawing up innovative tax schemes where subsidies and incentives are provided to genuinely sustainable or “responsible” tourism ventures that are energy saving, have stronger backward linkages to local economies and contribute to conservation. States like Kerala have already initiated processes such as these where industry could be made a partner in contributing to responsibility in tourism by positive incentives to those tourism establishments that leave the least ecological footprint or source from local markets thereby supporting the local agricultural economy base and other criteria. • Removing restrictions like RAP/ILP/PAP: the issue of permits is not as easily dealt with as the Working Group report seems to treat it; where applicable it is a matter or grave political and social sensitivity. Historically, the concept of line permits in regions like the Northeast was first imposed by the British through the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation of 1873 in order to control the activities of British officers and troops in the region on account of clashes with the tribal kings and follow a policy of ‘pacification’ rather than aggression in the region. Upon independence, the Constitution of India adopted this concept but with a new philosophy. Although Article 19 of the Constitution guarantees the freedom to move freely through the Territory of India or to reside/settle in any part of the territory, it clearly says that this shall not prevent the state from making any law imposing reasonable restrictions on the exercise of such rights either in the interest of the general public or any Scheduled Tribe. In this case, areas of the Northeast, identified as Schedule VI areas may have the right to impose permits on the entry or movement of outsiders. Added to this, the long standing political unrest and armed struggles in the region has made the permit issue, if possible, even more thorny and controversial. Clearly, there is more to the issue of inner line permits than promotion of tourism. It is critical that the governments respond to the long standing demands of north eastern groups on issues such as repeal of draconian acts like the AFSPA and near military rule in many areas before it speaks of removing restrictions on ILP to promote tourism. We believe that similar considerations keeping in view contextual specificities should be applied to all areas of conflict where tourism was/is a factor (such as Jammu and Kashmir) and areas in central India particularly parts of Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and even parts of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, where alongside huge government spend on tourism promotion, there is equally large spend on requisitioning state and central armed and police forces to quell armed struggles and violence. Often” explained” as anti-state and naxalite movements, the issues of poverty, livelihood, peoples access to a life of
freedom and dignity are not factored in into these quickly drawn equations and each issue, intervention and response is treated as if it can and should exist in vacuum. c. Improving India’s existing Tourism Products Further and Expanding these to meet New Market Requirements • The Working Group report recommends development of “sustainable beach, coastal and cruise tourism” but stops short of describing what such sustainability will encompass. Given the lack of wider stakeholder representation in the membership of the working group, and the reputation of these forms of tourism to be highly unsustainable, this becomes a serious issue. • Medical Tourism: the Tourism Ministry and government need to give serious thought to what benefits common people and what benefits local communities in particular derive from aggressive promotion of medical tourism before a no holds barred promotion of such tourism • MICE: infrastructure heavy, interaction with local communities and direct benefits to them are not proven d. Creation of world-class infrastructure • Circuits need to be developed carefully to avoid crowding, congestion and in tune with ecological and cultural sensitivity 3. Infrastructure and Destination Management In overall terms, the working group report has made some welcome positive statements in the context of infrastructure development related to tourism. These include ensuring that rural tourism projects focus on core and true tourism potential and ensure interactions and capacity building of the local; community; ensuring use of environmental resources happens with ecological sensitivity and contributes to conservation of biodiversity; the sociocultural ethnicity of communities is respected and that tourism brings in long-term and equitable economic benefits to local populations.. On the issue of certification of sustainable tourism businesses, we would like to flag a caution the challenge remains of clearly articulating what is sustainable and what is not and of who certifies “sustainable” establishments. The costs and standards of such certification has mostly made it out of reach of small operators and community based groups and ended up benefiting a few. There are However Some Aspects Related to Infrastructure where we Call for Reconsideration: States should enact a Conservation and Preservation Areas Act on the lines of the Kerala Tourism Conservation and Preservation of Areas (2005) Act. The Kerala Tourism (Conservation and Preservation of Areas) Act, 2005 (herein after referred to as the Act) is being hailed as a model and recommended to be replicated in states. We would like to raise some strong concerns about this recommendation and elaborate these in some detail. This Act was passed by the State of Kerala in February 2005, and is framed “…to make provisions for the conservation and preservation of tourist areas in the state and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto”. A detailed analysis of its provisions however indicates that its prime purpose is to expand tourism. What is of serious concern that it also serves as a tool to usurp power of panchayats in certain geographical areas, which the government feels are most profitable zones for expansion of tourism in the state. The Act declares certain areas of the state as Special Tourism Zones (STZ). However, the Act and also the recently drafted proposed Rules of the Act fails to provide a clear definition of “special tourism zones”. The concept is kept ambiguous and the Act does not outline the connotations of the term “any area” that can potentially be declared an STZ. Whether “any area” means an administrative unit such as district, block, village Panchayat or it stands for a physical entity like a beach, coast, backwaters, forests, mountains, is not clear from the given definition. This definition also does not spell out the nature of ownership (public/ private/ community) of “any area”. The Act serves to derail the constitutionally mandated system of decentralised governance through the elected representatives of local self governing institutions. It is a curios blend of a process that promotes centralising power of decision making on issues such a control of natural resources like water and land (on which the tourism industry is highly dependent) coupled with the process of substituting and prioritising tourism development plans over the general development plans in any area that is identified to be having tourism potential. The question arises can/should the Planning Commission who is charged with the responsibility of making assessment of all resources of the country, augmenting deficient resources, formulating plans for the most effective and balanced utilisation of resources2 recommend processes that are against the very basic mandate of decentralisation bestowed to the people 10
of this country by the Constitution of India? Can the general development plan (the General Master Plan of any area formulated under the local Town and Country Planning Act) process be usurped in favour of prioritising and pushing tourism centric developments through Special Tourism Master Plans, thereby allowing the Tourism Department to override decisions and functions of other departments whose core mandates are related to overall development of the area? The identity and raison de’etre of a place cannot be tourism, communities cannot be converted to hosts, and tourism cannot be allowed to dictate the overall development process in any area. It can only be one of the factors in the development and economic process and cannot be given such overriding powers. Any such policy move calls for an intense public consultation and debate with the local people and their representatives. Such debate is already ongoing in Kerala, even as the process of framing of rules is underway. It must be noted that identifying specific areas/zones for intensive tourism development is not new. It was first introduced in the National Tourism Policy of 1992 through Special Tourism Areas (STAs). When the STA policy was proposed in 1992, some of the identified locations were Bekal (Kerala), Sindhudurg (Maharashtra), Diu, Kancheepuram and Mahabalipuram (both Tamil Nadu). This met with vigorous resistance from communities and the proposals did not make much headway. STZs, STAs and similar models promote “enclavisation”, which in the context of tourism refers to the process of converting tourist locations into exclusive ‘islands’ where elite tourism can flourish - thereby detaching them from the local environment, culture and economy. Globally, the process of enclavisation in tourism has been a result of the need to create exclusive centres of tourism, which exploit local resources but give back little benefit to the local economy. Enclaves are also often viewed as safe investments, which would ensure a steady, continuous and reliable, flow of income from tourism through all seasons. The concept of enclavisation can also be interpreted to signify a creation of employment enclaves where tourism development provides certain kinds of employment to certain kinds of labour force, locking the local community out, without providing them a chance to benefit from the “zone”. There is also a similar move in the establishment of Development Authorities – in tourism intensive areas such as Hampi, Chilka Lake, and Kevadia (Gujarat) with broad sweeping and overriding powers. A sector like tourism, which needs to be localised and site-specific to ensure maximum benefit and least negative impacts, requires the consultative, regulatory and implementing powers to rest with local governing institutions and tourism cannot be prioritised over or override other developmental requirements of the area. Therefore, while we believe that many more states must understand the desirability of regulating tourism and conserving the areas that are frequented by people for tourism; we would urge that the basic tenets of democratic decentralisation, public consent and public good should be privileged. An analysis of the Act, so ardently propagated by the WG, reestablishes the colonial praxis that state (and not the people) is most competent to decide on all matters that affect people’s development. The Act, in the present model, makes powers of Panchayat Raj Institutions and Urban Local Bodies obsolete with the seizure of power by the state government and vesting it in the tourism department. According to many social scientists when the 73rd and 74th Amendment was brought in, the ruling elites (in both legislature and executive) had a tremendous mind block in transfer of power. They looked at these Constitutional provisions as a blow to their bastion of power and control. The new mantras of development and growth run the risk of reversing a hard won battle of power to the people to decide their lives and their futures. We hope that the Planning Commission will pay due attention to this very critical issue. Infrastructure Status as per Section 80-1A of the Income Tax Act As per the Income Tax Act, industrial undertakings or enterprises engaged in infrastructure development are eligible for deduction on gross profits and income for 10 assessable years (A.Ys) to the tune of: • • Initial 5 A.Ys – 100% of profits and gains Next 5 A.Ys – 25% (30% in case of companies) of profits and gains
However, this deduction is applicable only to enterprises engaged in infrastructure development, operation or management under agreement with the central or state government or any local authority. The Working Group opines that hotels and related infrastructure have high gestation periods making it necessary for the government to provide private investors with additional incentives and tax breaks. (But industry views themselves reveal that the gestation period for hospitality ventures has come down considerable. The industry observers in India themselves note that hotel ventures command an IRR of 30%, start profiting in 2-3 years and break even in 4-5 years. They further state that the gestation period for hotel projects has fallen from 4 years to 18-24 months). The WG further suggests that a whole host of facilities linked to tourism (right from hotels – resorts – amusement parks – convention centres – air taxi services – river cruise projects) be granted infrastructure status under Section 80-1A of the Income Tax Act. This will result in a significant loss of income from tax revenues. 11
Allow Higher Floor Space Index to Existing Hotel Properties to Expand their Facilities We are aware that several industry associations have been lobbying with state governments to increase the Floor Space Index (or Floor Area Ratio) for the hospitality sector. In 2005, the Andhra Pradesh state government relaxed the FSI for hotels from 1.5 to 1.75 in lieu of the relaxation that was already being enjoyed by the IT industry. Similar the SHRAI called upon the government of Tamil Nadu to increase FSI for the hospitality sector in lieu of the growing demand for hotel rooms and shortage of space in central business areas. A blanket increase in FSI for hotel properties is ill advised, as they would put high strain on local water supply, waste management, pollution and even congestion. Further, for sensitive ecological zones like coastal stretches and hill areas, a lower FSI has to be maintained to minimise adverse ecological impact. Further such a proposal is definitely against zoning regulations and construction bye-laws as hotel properties can come up in commercial, residential, coastal and all other zones as well. In highly sensitive ecological zones like the Andaman Islands, a higher FSI can prove disastrous for ecological sustainability. Role of Government in Infrastructure Development Related to Tourism The Working Group Report states that physical infrastructure requirements in the tourism sector like construction of hotels; convention centres and golf courses need to be left to private initiative with the government playing the role of facilitator and catalyst. This role of the government needs to be clarified as in the way tourism is currently developing - while there is need for facilitation of investment, there is even more dire need of regulation. Role of Local Self Governing Institutions not Recognised in Regional Planning and Destination Management The Working Group report does not acknowledge the need to involve local self-governing institutions like panchayats, grama sabhas, municipalities, village councils and other statutorily recognised bodies in the planning and implementation processes of destination management. It repeatedly emphasises the need for convergence with state governments and union territories, private industry and external experts and consultants like architects and site planners. The importance of involving LSGI institutions in tourism development cannot be emphasised enough. As per the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments, many of the powers devolved to LSGI Institutions are closely linked to requirements for local tourism development. PESA (Panchayat Extension in Scheduled Areas) further extends the principle of decentralisation to Scheduled V areas thereby recognising the rights of traditional community based local self-governance institutions. Also in regions like the Northeast under schedule VI, there are several different local bodies like autonomous district regional council, village development boards. There are many landmark examples in India (panchayats in Kumarakom (kerala) and Lata (Uttaranchal), Khonoma Tourism Development Board) Nagaland of local governance institutions taking the lead with regard to their vision of tourism planning, regulation and development. Non-recognition of these developments would not do justice to the principles of participation and community involvement that the report supports. 4. Publicity and Marketing Official estimates state that in 2006, India recorded 420 million domestic tourists and that targeting this sector will be the focus of the Tourism Ministry. We then wonder why such a markedly high proportion of central sector schemes – Rs 2000 crores (i.e. approximately 45% of central schemes outlay) has been earmarked for overseas promotion and publicity. A clear examination of the benefits to local economies in relation to central publicity and marketing needs to be undertaken. While the WG was mandated to review the need for continuing overseas tourist promotion offices, it has skipped the review aspect and instead promoted the continuation of the offices. This has been a contentious issue3 as the relevance and value addition in proportion to hefty expenses of running these offices is questionable. This is seen as rewards and perks for department officials. In the light of the huge allocations and the declared success of the Incredible India advertising and promotion campaign, there is a need to specify the return on investment of the strategies chosen in quantitative terms, to justify enhancing the spend on this item. 5. Access and Connectivity The working group places high emphasis on improvement in airways to facilitate more easy movement of tourists and improve connectivity to smaller towns and destinations. We understand the need for improved connectivity but believe that policy makers and tourism promoters must take cognisance of larger global issues linked to increasing air travel. These include climate change – where the global community has acknowledged links between increasing air travel, emissions and global warming - and safety concerns linked to increasing air travel. On the issue of climate change – growth in current forms ad styles of tourism has been identified as a key contributors to climate change
given that most tourists travel by air and the role that tourism has come to play as a high consumer of natural resources like water and its energy intensive infrastructure intensive approach. The report also seeks to develop all small ports along the west and east coasts for cruise tourism. This would be an expensive proposition as cruise vessels make significant demands of port infrastructure. All ports need not be subjected to this sort of intense physical infrastructure construction without certainty of whether it will prove at the minimum economically viable or will simply distribute the traffic across different ports. The ecological impacts of large cruise vessels docking at multiple points in the coast and the related water and air pollution are also factors to be considered. Also, while it is accepted that water is the cheapest mode of transport, there needs to be a clear distinction made between cruise tourism and the use of internal water resources for inland navigation. The use of inland water bodies needs to privilege needs of local communities for navigation and other purposes and like, use of coastal beach stretches need to ensure access of local fishing communities to the sea. Also, all too often decisions about connectivity have been tourism led and not based on the needs of communities. If infrastructure development leads to improved basic amenities for local communities then communities should decide what infrastructure would really meet their demands and priorities. This would also mean respecting the wishes of communities who welcome tourism but not the heavy infrastructure development that comes with it. We assert that if a community believes that a four-lane highway or tarred roads into their villages would do more harm then good, the government must consider these views as well. If the community prefers a school nearby or a primary health centre or sanitation or drinking water facilities or more frequent buses to the nearest town over resorts then we hope the government is willing to listen to the logic of that prioritisation. 6. Taxation and Incentives • The Indian hotel and hospitality industry is on a boom. So much so that capital is pouring in from other sectors with investors keen on making hay while the sun shines on tourism. EMAAR-MGF, Walt Disney, Reliance, Bombay Dyeing, ICICI Venture Funds and several others are investing in hotel stocks and picking up shares in five star properties to make the most of this boom. The working group report plans a central-level declaration that tourism industry should be given a no-tax regime for a period of 10 years from the date of commencement of projects and that 50% profits need not be taxed. With the current high profit levels in the industry (largely on account of the demand-supply deficit) such heavy tax relief does not seem justified or prudent. Further, it is unacceptable that in a country with over 650 million farmers who do not get active government subsidy and support for their sustenance4, the government must shower subsidies on the tourism industry! Such heavy rationalisation of taxes might turn into a significant revenue loss for state governments especially, for whom luxury tax and entertainment tax are important tools of fiscal policy. The working group further recommends that Fringe Benefit Tax should be rationalised for all tourism industry establishments and that state luxury tax should be maintained at a uniform 5-10% across all states. We believe that state governments will certainly respond to such a move and evaluate whether rationalisation of luxury tax can be afforded or not. But we believe that such fiscal incentives must be left to the good judgement of state governments which are most affected by losses of revenue by such rationalisation of taxes. Such a move might further, seriously impact decentralisation measures by reducing drastically financial support to LSGI. The exclusion of state government representatives from the Steering Committee which has specifically in its ToR the point of reviewing incentives and concessions needs to be therefore revisited. • The working group further urges that it is the prerogative of state governments to provide full-time water and electricity supply to the hotel industry. We believe that the prerogative for supply of water must rest with the developer and not with the government as in the case of basic amenities such as water, the priority of the government should be supply of potable water and basic electricity to the general public particularly the poor and not prioritise the needs of tourists. 7. Specific Product Development: Analysis of the Specific Types/Forms of Tourism that the Policy Speaks of and Resultant Impact Analysis Heritage and Culture Tourism The Working Group makes specific reference to the development of heritage and culture tourism in India during the next Plan period. Traditions and cultural heritage form an important part of the experience that tourists seek in their travels to a country as diverse as India. However a line needs to be drawn between a cultural experience as a tourist and commoditising culture as a product for tourism. We also need to be clear of what is being treated as “national
heritage”, who defines it as “heritage” and who owns it. Our comments come from experiences of communities of the insensitivity and disregard that tourism promotion and activities are often guilty of. • The report talks about the need to evolve a cultural tourism policy. This is a welcome step, which we hope would highlight to governments and industry players, the need to approach cultural aspects of tourism development with sensitivity and respect. We hope this policy draws from international documents like International Cultural Tourism Charter (that was adopted at the 12th Assembly of ICOMOS at Mexico, 1999) that outline principles related to cultural conservation, community benefit and participation in tourism and the positive role that tourism can play towards international cultural exchange and understanding. We urge that the process of formulation of such a policy in India should be open and draw from community experiences in tourism from across the country. • The report makes repeated reference to ‘Cultural Heritage Management’ without clarifying what precisely it means or attempts to do. • The report states “Tourism is driven by attractions…attractions act as a catalyst for the provision of all other tourism products and services. Cultural heritage assets therefore must be transferred into cultural heritage products”. This is a one-sided and materialistic understanding of culture that is objectionable and needs revision in the context of the call for cultural sensitivity and respect that communities and indigenous peoples across the world are calling for. A scrutiny of the colourful and attractive tourist brochures printed by central and state departments provides ample evidence of the fact that indigenous peoples and their culture are commodities. Even more disturbing is how the tribal woman is represented as exotic and desirable. Tribal villages are depicted as mystical, paradise-like, intriguing places that provide the viewer a glimpse of mystery, a taste of an alien culture. References to tribal culture, folklore, culture and traditional belief systems of these ancient people, often border on the arrogance and sometimes ignorance that typifies mainstream thinking. Commodification is evident – a traditional motif becomes an “artefact” or “souvenir”, traditional dresses and accessories – “costumes” and ancestral traditions – an “experience”. By using the same language of ‘product’, the Working Group recommendations are extending this mainstream notion and perception of culture in general and indigenous culture in particular. The Working Group must strongly recommend to the Ministry of Tourism and its state-level counterparts that sensitivity towards cultural aspects of tourism begins by reflecting on the promotional material and language currently in use particularly in terms of the respect it accords indigenous and tribal cultures and women. • Culture – tangible (in the form of monuments, arts, crafts) and intangible (customs, values, beliefs, ways of life) are intrinsic to communities’ identity and existence. It is living and must not be converted into ‘products’ and packaged for tourism. The focus should be on providing the tourist a cultural tourism experience that allows for authentic and contemporary interaction with communities through mutual respect and dignity and NOT on developing ‘cultural tourism products’. Statements like “It is important to recognise culture and heritage as an essential and specialised product of Indian tourism under the Eleventh Plan” are also objectionable for the same reasons. • The report further talks of effective “conservation management plans” for sustainable cultural tourism and has developed a five-point agenda for the same. However, this section addresses only tangible cultural assets like monuments and heritage sites without appreciating the value of intangible cultural heritage of communities. Monuments and heritage site are often living cultural sites for communities. The report itself, in a later section recognises the importance of intangible heritage but does not seem to integrate into its conservation strategies. It is often the intangible that is adversely affected by insensitive tourism development and impacts communities’ identity as commodities. We urge that the government addresses even this aspect by devising guidelines that industry and tourists can adopt to promote healthy and authentic cultural exchanges through tourism. • In its strategy recommendations, the working group report makes good points including anticipating the environmental impact of tourist activity in heritage zones, assess carrying capacity and developing tourist facilities in harmony with the local ecosystem. However we would flag with caution the recommendation of creation of “Specific heritage tourism zones” where “majority of tourist activities can be concentrated”. There is the risk that such exclusive zones may permit unregulated tourism characterised by high exploitation. • The idea of conducting tourism impact assessment frameworks is certainly welcome and will help improve stakeholder participation and assess potential and negative impacts of the proposed tourism activities. We hope that this idea will be detailed out and implemented. We hope that the impacts of tourism are considered in multi-dimensions (social, cultural, economic and political) and not just environmental impacts or an assessment from the market point of view. We also strongly support that recommendation of the Working Group that the potential negative impacts of tourism on culture need to be constantly monitored and
mitigated. In this list of potential negative impacts, we would add the question of access of local community to common property resources that often gets jeopardised due to tourism. The Planning Commission needs to allocate specific funds for reviewing/assessing impacts of tourism and define a clear process for this. Such an assessment needs to also be inclusive in terms of who participates and the teams involved in designing and implementing such an exercise needs to be multidisciplinary and involve the range of stakeholders. The proposal of the working group to establish a Tourism Regulatory Authority is definitely the need of the hour. We believe that the mandate and role of this Authority should not be restricted to protect heritage but should be extended to address all impacts of tourism. Further, powers need to be extended to local governments to enable them to act as effective regulators of local tourism development The focus on the culture and heritage of the Northeast region is evident in the report.. Tourism development in a conflict zone is a complicated affair and can seriously create more divides and schisms in an already volatile setting. The Northeast is reeling under political turmoil, ethnic strife and self-determination struggles – and the consistent focus of the Tourism Ministry of opening it up for tourists needs to be restrained with sensitivity towards the distinct socio-cultural aspects of this region and the aspirations of the people. Tourism development in the form of a series of centre led schemes has rarely considered a bottom up consultative process and paced itself in the context of the needs realities and aspirations of people.
Ecotourism Ecotourism has remained for the last decade, a key focus area of the government’s tourism promotion strategy. India’s rich biodiversity, variety of ecosystems, vibrant flora and fauna are undoubtedly the reasons for the focus on ecotourism. However, we are sure that policy-makers are also aware of the abuse that the term and concept of ‘ecotourism’ has been subject to. What ends up being termed ‘eco’ is nothing but green washed versions of the same unsustainable mass tourism activities. In an interview, Héctor Ceballos-Lascuráin, globally acclaimed as the architect of “ecotourism” confessed, ‘In general, I may say that I am quite surprised and satisfied with the evolution of ecotourism since I coined the term back in 1983. However, I am also concerned that the term has been variously abused and misused in many places. In my own country, Mexico, and in many others, I am sad to see that “ecotourism” is seen mainly as adventure tourism and carrying out extreme sports in a more or less natural environment, with little concern for conservation or sustainable development issues.’ With this reality in mind, it remains the challenge of the central and state governments to not only promote ecotourism responsibly but also ensure that developers understand it holistically and abide by agreed standards and guidelines. The Working Group report also recommends the reviving of the National Ecotourism and Policy Guidelines that the ministry had developed earlier. Any such policy must be able to engage with or satisfy the concerns of groups raising issues of biodiversity conservation, community benefits, indigenous people’s rights and sustainability. Review of the past legislations and policies like the National Biodiversity Strategy & Action Plan, Biodiversity Act 2002, National Environment Policy, 2006, The Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Forest Rights) Act 2006, and various central and state tourism policies have shown that these laws and policies have failed to address these issues and concerns. Specifically, responses to the draft Ecotourism Policy have highlighted the absence of clearly articulated steps as to how ecotourism development will involve communities and benefit them. • The working group talks of increasing tourism focus in beach and coastal stretches which have always been favourite targets for tourism. The government of course, cannot deny that in certain pockets, unregulated tourism has also been guilty of abuse of the coast by blatant violation of coastal regulation norms. It is a wellrecorded fact that the first push for dilution of the CRZ (Coastal Regulation Zone) norms came from the tourism industry. In the last two months, several state High Courts have given landmark verdicts directing state government to demolish tourism establishments that have been constructed in violation of the CRZ Notification and led to displacement of fisher communities. These include the High Court of Karnataka ordering the demolition of government-run Jungle Lodges and Resorts camp at Devbagh in Karwar, the High Court of Andhra Pradesh ordering the demolition of VUDA (Vishakapatnam Urban Development Authority) established amusement parks and construction by private players in the Vizag-Bheemunipatnam coastal stretch and the High Court of West Bengal upholding the verdict of the district court to demolish illegal hotels and resorts in Midnapore coastal stretch of West Bengal. In the light of these, it might be well advised for the Working Group to categorically direct tourism industry to adhere to CRZ norms and empower state and district governance bodies to take punitive action against violators. The working group has rightly alluded to the need for sustainable tourism. Developing do’s and don’ts lists at wildlife parks, urging industry to sign on to the pledge contained in the Environment and Ecotourism
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Handbook, undertaking carrying capacity studies, providing training to local guides and ensuring developers adhere to building guidelines are useful steps making tourism industry and establishments more sustainable. We also feel that while these activities will certainly improve the environmental sustainability of tourism, much more needs to be done to ensure the ecological and social sustainability aspect. The pace of growth and infrastructure heavy model of tourism may have to be reconsidered. The Working Group must also consider some the following measures to ensure that benefits from tourism accrue to local communities living in tourism destinations: Urge industry to reserve a certain percentage of jobs in all hotels/resorts to local youth and especially women Ensure that adequate training and skill enhancement is provided to the community to enable them to successfully handle all levels of work in the hotel – even at the management level and not just low-end jobs like guides, housekeeping, gardening and so on Urge tourism industry to improve backward and forward linkages to agricultural and fisheries sectors by sourcing their raw material locally Ensure that local panchayats, municipalities are given greater and decisive roles in tourism development, monitoring and regulation Support women’s groups and other entrepreneurial activity with marketing and financial incentives, linkages and access to credit, as well as capacity building so that their products and services are part of the mainstream tourist market and bring direct benefit to rural women. The XI Five Year Plan’s Steering Committee on Environment and Forests makes some excellent observations with regard to development of ecotourism, which the tourism working group could consider, given its commitment to greater inter-department coordination. Some of these recommendations are: Ploughing back of tourism revenues from protected areas for their maintenance and creating livelihood opportunities for neighbouring population Amendment to the Wildlife Protection Act to create Joint Protected Area Management that gives statutory role to local communities in addition to wildlife experts and civil society representatives. Development of community-based and community owned ecotourism guidelines and standards Financial support to local bodies to start community-owned ecotourism ventures A clear-cut long term policy on eco-tourism which is complementary with the conservation objectives and modalities of participation of the local stakeholders which involves maximum people from the serving communities and creates a sense of ownership project amongst the local people.
Cruise Tourism The Working Group report articulates a specific emphasis on cruise tourism in the government’s plan for the next five years. We would like to caution the government of the need to carefully monitor and regulate cruise tourism activities in the light of experiences of some of the world’s most popular cruise destinations in the Caribbean. The Final Report of the Ministry of Tourism’s study on “Cruise Tourism: Potential and Strategy Study” completed in December 2005 highlights some key points of action that we can expect from the government to implement in the coming years. They include promoting and positioning India as a leading cruise tourism destination, focussing on sea, ocean and river cruises and putting in place the necessary infrastructure for the industry. But in its section on economic impacts of promoting cruise tourism in India, the Report says – “... In India developing the sector would demand major capital investment in terms of cruise terminal and other related cruise port infrastructure development… The economic benefits derived would be from cruise ships and shipping services in the form of expenditure by the cruise line, passengers and crew on goods and services once in port leading to the creation of jobs, new local business and rejuvenation of the local economy The most significant areas of expenditure would include: Shore excursion product, Retail, Ship Supplies and bunkers, Transport and Ancillary services.” But as experiences from the Caribbean, the world’s most popular cruise tourism destination reveal, these economic benefits of the industry percolate less easily to the local level. The Organisation of American State’s Inter-American Committee on Ports states that the Caribbean is the leading destination for the world’s cruise tourists as it accounts for 47% of the world market share. When most Caribbean countries began opening up their tourism service markets, cruise ships were considered as an easy way of drawing tourists in large numbers to these islands. Therefore the foreign cruise ship industry received economic incentives, governmental infrastructure support and an aggressive government-funded publicity campaign to attract customers. As a result, today, tourism in many Caribbean countries thrives because of the cruise ship industry with the number of cruise-ship tourists in the majority of the countries being greater than the number of stop-over tourists (Caribbean Tourism Organisation, 2004). The rate of growth of the cruise ship industry is uniformly higher in all Caribbean
economies compared to the stop-over tourism industry with some of the highest growth rates registered in upcoming destination countries of Belize, Guyana and Dominica. Cruise Tourism directly competes with local land-based tourism establishments, often to the detriment of the latter. This is due to many factors– firstly the direct benefits that cruise tourism brings to the local economies is lesser than land-based tourism as cruise ships use local resources and employ local people to a lesser degree than land based activities do. Secondly, cruises usually operate as package tours which provide the entire tourism experience of the destination on board the ship itself including shopping for local handicrafts and souvenirs, tasting the local cuisine and experiencing the local art and culture. This severely constrains tourists from touring the actual destination physically and through this limits their financial contribution to the local economy. Even if the ship docks and tourists are allowed to explore the area, this is usually limited to the port area only. Thirdly, their economic power has also enabled cruise ships to benefit from perpetrating false myths among passengers about the safety of the destination and thereby encouraging them to continue staying aboard. Some authors elucidate the point by highlighting that the major revenue-earner for cruise ships is on-board revenues that approximate US $ 300 per passenger per day. In order to increase the same, cruise ships were allowed to open bars, casinos and shops while they remained docked. Caribbean Cruise companies also provide unique products to their customers by taking them to ‘fantasy islands’, which are off limits for everybody but their passengers and crew. Of the 8 major cruise lines operating regularly in the Caribbean, six own private islands such as Half Moon Cay, Casaway Cay, Great Stirrup Cay, Princes Cay, Serena Cay and Coco Cay, which they include among their ports of call. The oligopolistic structure of the industry has also limited the ability of small local entrepreneurs to make inroads into the mammoth billion-dollar industry and gain meaningfully from it. Three giants – Royal Caribbean, Carnival Corporation and Princess had a combined revenue figure of US $ 11.5 million in 2002 indicating the extent of monopoly profits made. Additionally, cruise ships also result in large expenses for the government exchequer to provide adequate port infrastructure. There is also now growing evidence to support the fact that alongside the Caribbean’s growing cruise ship industry is the problem of unsightly and hazardous pollution mounting on sea floors, in harbours and in coastal areas. Most pollution occurs because of the legal or illegal dumping of waste by ships into ocean waters, which are then carried by strong winds to the shores of islands. In a smaller portion but equally harmful is the pollution that ships cause at harbours and coastal areas while docked. International cruise ship pollution is governed by the MARPOL (Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and other Matter) Protocol while ocean dumping of waste is controlled by the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and other Materials that permits ships to dump shredded glass and tin and treat food waste into the oceans. But although most cruises are registered in countries that are signatories to these international conventions, few ships actually have installed technology to treat their wastes aboard before dumping them into the sea. Another interesting point to note is that even though governments are aware of the magnitude of the problem, most Caribbean countries themselves are not signatories to these conventions. This is because, the attempt to clean up the ocean, has also put extra strain on land-based facilities of islands and countries are aware that signing MARPOL would oblige them to set up waste disposal mechanisms on land to treat the wastes brought in by ships. In parallel, Cruise ships can mitigate the problem by following a ‘Zero Discharge’ policy, but most are hesitant to execute this as this would involve losing out valuable room space on board the ship to install treatment plants. The cruise ship industry is also clear that even if it might make financial contributions towards waste disposal mechanisms on shore, there would be no commitment for the inevitable transportation to and management of landfills, or technical support to deal with other waste management concerns. Regulating cruise ship pollution is further impeded by the ambiguity concerning the registration of many liners. This complicates matters as many cruise ships choose to register or flag their ships outside their country of origin in order to take advantage of tax incentives and cheaper labour for their crew. Such ambiguity over registration makes penalisation difficult in cases where the law has held the ships guilty of polluting waters. Against this context, the government needs to re-think its cruise tourism strategy and ensure the environmental and economic sustainability of it as a model for local development through tourism. 8. The Tourist Circuit Approach The Terms of Reference clearly asks the Working Group to “review the impact of particular Plan schemes, particularly the progress of tourism circuit approach”. While the report of the Working Group has not revealed whether it has indeed undertaken such an analysis and review, its recommendations certainly give the impression that the circuit approach to tourism development in the country must be continued. The Report recommends that the government focus on particular circuits, improve infrastructure on some others without responding to the point of reviewing the 17
model itself. The Tourism Circuit Approach in the country took its roots in the 1992 Policy, otherwise called the National Plan for Tourism (1992). It identified, what were to become in the coming decades, some of the most popular tourism circuits of the country (Kulu – Manali – Leh), Madras – Mammallapuram – Pondicherry, Bagdogra – Sikkim – Darjeeling – Kalimpong – Rishikesh – Gangotri – Badrinath to name a few) and also proposed, the much debated proposal of demarcating Special Tourism Areas. The tourism ‘circuit’ (within contiguous or close geographical area or ‘special area’ or ‘special zone’ are all models of tourism development that turn on its head principles of equitable approaches income and benefit distribution of regions. All such models direct the government and industry to focus their investment, infrastructure, employment creation efforts in a defined, carved out geographic territory with less thought to how the surrounding areas will be developed, the socio-economic implications of creating such exclusive zones of prosperity and most importantly – the means of equitably distributing the benefits gained from these ‘zones’ to all within the zone and outside of it. Today, the Ministry of Tourism is toying with the idea of establishing Special Tourism Zones on the lines of SEZs in the country. But the model so proposed is exclusive and exploitative and not in line with the larger objectives of socio-economic development, employment opportunities and using tourism as a tool for development that the Working Group ToR itself reflects. The MOT defined a circuit as a route on which at least three major destinations are there so that a tourist entering at one point is motivated to visit all three. There is now a move away from the geographic circuits towards product circuits (Buddhist, spice, and heritage) and this move implies a serious re-look at the strategy of circuit development remaining more at the level of promotion and advertisement and less on contributing to regional development. Analysing these models of tourism development, reviewing their strengths, weaknesses and impacts and then proposing a continuance would have been appropriate rather than the blanket go ahead. There are initiatives on in different parts of the country which have moved away from the traditional circuit approach (where the government or one of its agencies pre-identifies a location to be part of a circuit) to help communities and regions of the country discover and work with their inherent tourism potential. IV. Inputs into the Planning Commission’s work on tourism in the XI Five Year Plan in addition to the Working Group’s recommendations Below are areas of concern in tourism development that we would like to bring to the attention of the Planning Commission and which have not been addressed in the Report of the Working Group. These relate to some overall issues and trends concerning tourism development and its impact on particular vulnerable sections of our society. Impacts on Specific Constituencies: 1. The Child and Tourism The Tourism Working Group Report makes no mention of issues related to children in the context of tourism development. Tourism is known to directly contribute to the exploitation of the child in the form of child labour, child trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children. Below are those references to tourism made by the reports of the Working Groups on Development of Child and Child Protection in the Eleventh Five Year Plan. It would be important to see the tourism policy-makers and industry to acknowledge these measures and see how they can contribute to it. The Working Group on Development of Children for the Eleventh Five Year Plan: (2007-2012) report reflects a holistic commitment to the child. It calls for rights-based approach in the Eleventh Plan with shared vision, intent and effort, inter-connectedness of action, and a synergy and wholeness of beneficial outcomes for children. Strong inter-sectoral collaboration at the level of policy, implementation and monitoring of outcome is therefore critical. Lateral linkages with different sectors and departments and ministries of central and state governments viz. Education, Health, Labour, Social Defense, Rural Development, Panchayati Raj, Urban Affairs, Tribal Affairs, Legal Affairs, Home Affairs, Tourism, Railways, Civil Aviation etc. is therefore crucial for ensuring holistic child development and protection. In its chapter on situational analysis the report specifically mentions child sex tourism as a significant contributing factor for the commercial sexual exploitation of children. It further recognises that this problem has not been tackled seriously or discussed openly in India and that communities are most often silent and unwilling to speak about this phenomenon. It specifically defines sex tourism as a major industry with inadequate laws and inefficient judicial systems being the main causes of sex tourism affecting children. This, they believe leads paedophiles to believe that in India they can abuse children without risk of prosecution. Further, the report of the sub-group on Child Protection in the Eleventh Five Year Plan further elucidates:
Child sex tourism involves hotels, travel agencies and tour operators and some companies openly advertise availability of child prostitutes. Child sex tourism is prevalent in Goa, North Karnataka (Gokarna and Karwar), Kerala (Kovalam), Tamil Nadu (Mamallapuram), Orissa (Puri), West Bengal (Digha) and in Rajasthan. Mumbai is believed to be the ‘biggest centre for paedophilic commerce in India’. The tourist season shows a sudden influx of young boys and girls onto the beaches in these tourist destinations. On an average 50 girls and boys arrive in Goa during tourist season. A study on child sex tourism completed by an organization called Equations in 2002, indicates that children are promised better jobs and then ‘forced’ into sex and that moneylenders force parents to sell their children to repay debts. The study also reports that hotels and lodges have contacts with adult sex workers, pimps, rickshaw pullers, petty traders who make contact with street children and bring them to tourist hotels and lodges. Areas of concern that the ministry has flagged off is with the tourism industry aiming to become the second largest foreign exchange earner in the country, more children are likely to be ‘at risk’ and vulnerable to sexual exploitation. Further, in its chapter on Inter-Sectoral Coordination & Convergence, the working group calls for responsibility from the Ministry of Tourism towards: • Curbing sex-tourism, child pornography and child prostitution. • Building safeguards and checks in relation to child exploitation. In its recommendations section, the working group calls for specially designed strategies to combat trafficking for sexual exploitation in different areas like sex tourism, pilgrim places, beach sex tourism, film industry sex exploitation, etc. While the Working Groups on Child Rights and Development have stressed to such a degree the role of tourismrelated child abuse and asked for the support of relevant Tourism authorities, it is worrying to note that the working report on tourism does not consider the responsibility of tourism to be a no-child –exploitation zone. While the focus is on sexual exploitation of children the problems related to trafficking of children and child labour are grave and shameful and it is disturbing that these very serious issues are not on the radar of the WG and SC. 2. Women in Tourism The working group makes little mention of the role of women in tourism either in the case of possible gains for women or in terms of acknowledging and therefore mitigating the problems that women face in tourism. Some of the issues that need to be addressed in relation to women associated with tourism industry / activities in India include: Gender equality vs. Gender Discrimination in the Hospitality Industry: Women are relegated to relatively low skill and low paying or stereotypical jobs like housekeeping, front-desk and reception, catering and laundry services. Numerous studies have shown that they face the risk of sexual harassment and exploitation, are discouraged from forming unions or associations to consolidate their strength and influence. In the last few decades, the tourism industry has undergone a period of explosive growth, and as a labour intensive industry, there has consequently been a rapid rate of job creation and development. Global data on numbers of women and men working in tourism related professions suggests that the organised tourism sector seems to be a particularly important sector for women (46 % of the workforce are women) as their percentages of employment in most countries are higher than in the workforce in general (34 - 40 % are women)( ILO 2007). Of the data available for the years between 1988 and 2005, it appears that there has been a broad increase in the participation of women for tourism industry at a global level5. However apart from the larger overall presence in the industry, sadly many other factors follow the trend of the overall labour market and women do not seem to benefit particularly from tourism. The proportion of women's to men's wages is less. This is attributed to the typical occupations offered to women paying less, and that women feature significantly more in part time and/or temporary employment, and/or women being paid less for the same work (wage inequity).As in many other sectors, there is a significant horizontal and vertical gender segregation of the labour market in tourism. Vertically, the typical "gender pyramid" is prevalent in the tourism sector - lower levels and occupations with few career development opportunities being dominated by women and key managerial positions being dominated by men.
Safety, Working Hours and Addressing Sexual Harassment on the Job: The draft Protection of Women Against Sexual Harassment at the Workplace Bill, 2007 by the Department of Women and Child development is a particularly welcome development as it covers the sexual harassment of women both in the organised and unorganised sectors. Given that this sector leaves women particularly vulnerable, it would be important for the WG does not integrate any such national initiatives to prevent incidences of sexual harassment in the tourism and hospitality sector as part of its sustainable, responsible tourism mandate. Unacknowledged Contribution: Women constitute almost 60% of the informal hospitality sector. The role of women in informal tourism setting that also caters to the tourists running home-stay facilities, tourism-related facilities, such as crafts and handicrafts, handloom, small shops and street vending. The need to acknowledge the important economic contribution of women in these and ensure access to credit, capacity building and enhanced skills, access to market , encouragement ot form unions, associations and cooperatives to increase their bargaining power, and ensure safety health and social security provisions are necessary. Community based tourism initiatives, particular of local women's groups and co-operatives are an important way by which women can control and benefit from tourism. There are numerous examples where women and women's groups have started income generating activities on their own which then feed into or become part of part of the formal tourism sector. These activities help to create financial independence for local women and challenge them to develop the necessary skills and improve their education. Unfortunately when tourism displaces people from traditional incomes or worse still physically displaces them the fact that many ancillary occupations tobacco, coconut harvesting, fish sorting and processing are women-dominated activities are not taken into account. The understanding of women as claim holders (benefits) in the tourism development need to be explored to actualise the vision of women’s empowerment as stated in the section 1.07 of the introduction. Understanding that tourism-related ancillary industries like fisheries, crafts and handicrafts, handloom, agriculture can contribute gainfully by supporting women’s entrepreneurship efforts. Tourism rather than displacing needs to offer livelihood options so that women can choose. Access to Natural Resources: When tourism restricts access of communities to natural resources, it is the women not only as homemakers, but also as the community members who suffer the most. There is a direct correlation between depletion/ usage of natural resources for tourism development and increased burden on women in day to day life. Women’s access to and control over forest produce and water come into sharp conflict when tourism usurps resources either by depleting them or by denying access to communities for their life and livelihood needs. The burden on day to day living is oftentimes doubled or tripled “Cultural Tourism’s” Impacts on Women: When tourism makes products of culture it is seen that it tends to commodify women particularly – although both men and women are impacted by the insensitive selling of culture. Sexual Objectification of Women in Tourism: With sex tourism being the most negative and prominent example, there is a significant amount of sexual objectification of women working in the tourism industry. Studies have shown that women are expected to dress in an "attractive" manner, to look beautiful (i.e. slim, young, and pretty) and to "play along" with sexual harassment by customers. Stereotypical images of women are in many cases part of the tourism product. Friendly smiling women, fitting certain standards of attractiveness, who seem to be waiting to submissively serve the customer's every wish are being portrayed. Women working at destinations as well as indigenous women are being shown in a stereotypical way in tourism brochures and other material. The United Nations World Tourism Organisation has declared the theme of this year’s World Tourism Day (27 September 2007) as “Tourism Opens Doors for Women” towards promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment. It is critical that notwithstanding the noble intentions of this global tourism body, the Indian government needs to take a more serious look at paying more than lip service to its goals of women’s empowerment through tourism. Understanding women’s agency and seeing how empowerment is in real ways possible through a range of roles that women play – the social, economic, political and cultural are all needed for the WG and the ministry to walk its talk on this issue.
3. Indigenous People and Tourism The indigenous peoples of India, who constitute 8.2% of the country’s population and live with great diversity in culture, language, lifestyle and art forms, are rising to face the new invasion of tourism. Tourism impacts indigenous communities along three lines of exploitation, eviction and benefit sharing, but it also has the potential if carefully planned and consultatively implemented to be of benefit to them. In the section on cultural and heritage tourism we highlighted some of the problems associated with the easy and insensitive commodification of tribal cultures. Tourism has also played its part in the eviction of indigenous people from their ancestral lands only to then open them up to ‘ecotourism’. All Protected Areas are irresistible tourism attractions - their evident natural beauty, wildlife attractions and wilderness component have lured visitors in large numbers. This understanding was based on the Western notion of ‘wilderness’ – an expanse of greenery devoid of all human habitation and a notion of ‘conservation’ which implied the de-legitimisation of forest dwellers and part of the of the forest habitat, de-recognition of traditional rights and exclusion and eviction of tribal communities from forests. In India, national parks and wildlife sanctuaries have been assiduously promoted as ecotourism attractions. The National Tourism Policy of 2002 clearly states – “wildlife sanctuaries and national parks need to be integrated as an integral part of the India tourism product, and priority needs to be given to the preparation of site and visitor management plans for key parks, after a prioritization of parks.” The aspect of eviction of indigenous people from their traditional lands for the cause of ecotourism development and its consequent impacts does not find adequate mention in these policies or consideration of the working group. Kanha and Pench in MP and Nagarahole and Kudremukh in Karnataka are examples of sites of ongoing struggles been rights of adivasis and the imperatives of tourism. Experiments and models in India privileging indigenous ownership and control of tourism are yet nascent6. But with growing interest in responsible tourism in India, policy makers need to study these initiatives for promoting a tourism that is community-led, owned, and implemented. Many indigenous communities hope that tourism will offer an alternative to more destructive forms of “development” in their regions such as logging, mining and other extractive industries. They are alert to and some even welcome ecotourism projects that can help conserve their natural environments and provide alternative sources of livelihood. There are no ready models or easy answers to these aspirations, but what seems essential is that alternatives, best practices and new models be evolved by and with them. Tourism indeed is contributing to the displacement, exploitation and marginalisation of indigenous communities, there is also the hope that it might transform itself into a tool for benefiting these communities – economically and culturally – without being exploitative. When confronted with highly destructive forms of “development” like mining, dams and extractives, indigenous communities are pinning their hopes on tourism – if sensibly and sensitively dialogued it can be a tool for their collective economic empowerment, and a means for promoting greater understanding and respect for their identities, culture and traditions. 4. Other Marginalised Sections and Tourism The report in 1.07 notes that tourism has become an instrument for sustainable human development including: • Poverty elimination • Environmental regeneration • Job creation; and • Advancement of women and other disadvantaged groups. The Planning Commission needs to pay due attention to how tourism can benefit other marginalised sections. We draw special attention in this paper to dalits and to people with disabilities not just in terms of their right and ability to enjoy and participate in tourism as tourists but also in how tourism can be inclusive of them and ensure that they benefit. Dalits have been denied Rs 20,510 crore in this budget as ministries have failed to set aside the mandated proportion of funds under the scheduled castes sub-Plan. The total Plan allocation7 for SCs by all ministries in 2007-2008 is Rs 1,25,15.75 crore, 6.10 per cent of the total allocations of around Rs 20,8583 crore, instead of the mandated 16 per cent. The government had introduced the special component Plan (SCP) during the 6th Five-Year Plan now been renamed as the Scheduled Castes Sub Plan (SCSP). Out of 75 departments/ministries, 22 have unilaterally decided
that their schemes are indivisible, that is, there won’t be any special component for the weaker sections, especially SCs/STs. Tourism planners and implementers while planning a rural tourism project must ensure that all members of the community have access to participate and influence the direction of the project. Rural Indian society is particularly stratified on the lines of caste, class, traditional occupation and gender roles resulting in differential access to voice, resources and power. Until specific processes are set in place to work on social structures such as caste, it must be recognised that the entry of tourism may well work in the opposite direction - with perpetuating the status quo in terms of access and occupation. Caution must be taken to ensure that a wide group of people representing different sections and interests are able to influence and therefore benefit from the project. Imbalanced benefit sharing may increase the gap between the poor and rich creating a situation of intra-community competition that may unintentionally accentuate existing inequities and divides. 5. Climate Change and Tourism Climate represents a key resource for tourism and climate related risks in the form of changing weather patterns and extreme conditions can have a serious impact on travel patterns and preferences. On the other hand the tourism industry itself is a contributor to climate change by generating greenhouse gas emissions through travellers' consumption of transport services, notably road and air transport, and high levels of energy consumption like air conditioning, heating and lighting in tourism establishments. The aviation industry is the biggest threat as it is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gases, growing at a rate of 5% per year and contributing to 3% of global emissions. Air travel, particularly long haul international flights emitting greenhouse gases at high cruising altitudes, adds substantially to climate change effects. The relentless expansion of the tourism industry is a major cause for concern. Tourism continues to pervade coasts and islands leading to undesirable impacts on ecosystems and biodiversity. Communities that live on coastal areas and small island states face serious risks due to sea level rise. They face the brunt of displacement through expansion of tourism facilities and establishments on the one hand. On the other, their livelihoods such as fishing are affected due to the fact that ecosystems like coral reefs that support fish populations are dying as a result of climate change impacts. In mountainous regions melting of glaciers pose the risk of floods and threatens the lives and livelihoods of communities which are dependent on agriculture. Forest diversity is also threatened by climate change which in turn threatens the livelihood of forest dependent communities. Bowing to global pressure to take action on climate change the Prime Minister has recently constituted a council. Given the constitution of the three member committee many environmental and social action groups fear that the recommendations are likely to be technocratic and market oriented rather than signal an opportunity for transformatory approaches. India has made it clear that it will not accept any legal mandate on green house gas emission reduction as it will impact the GDP growth8. Interestingly we have the environment ministry pleading for a booming economy. “This (emission reduction) will mean a sharp cut on the industrialisation and modernization drives as the number of factories, industrial parks, trading hubs and automobiles has to be brought down. It will virtually kill the booming economy, which is growing annually by more than eight per cent,” said an environment ministry official. “India has six million hectares of cultivable degraded forest land. The government plans to undertake a major programme for this degraded land making it one of the world’s largest afforestation efforts in recent times,” Dr Singh said. This will boost the target of achieving the national goal of having 33 per cent tree and forest cover by 2012.Only 20.64 per cent of the country is under forest cover at the moment. But the government has actually digressed from its original plan of having 33 per cent “forest cover” to have the same area under “tree and forest” cover. The Union Environment Ministry is now planning to allow the private sector enter the forestry sector. These trends including others like the promotion of biofuels, carbon sequesters and sinks are highly contested and only serve to open natural resources to market mechanisms and private profit.
The Djerba Declaration of the UNWTO on Tourism and Climate Change makes specific appeals to government, industry and international/national NGOs to acknowledge the growing contribution of tourism to climate change and take remedial steps. Some of the immediate suggestions have been: • To encourage industry to reduce consumption of water and adopt more fuel and energy efficient systems • To urge governments to study impact of climate change on communities and set into place adaptive strategies • To adopt fiscal measures like taxation to raise revenues that governments can then invest in mitigating strategies like afforestation and so on. We urge policy-makers to consider these in their recommendations for improved infrastructure and connectivity where all modes (air, rail and road) are highly fossil fuel consumptive. The tourism industry is notorious for high per capita consumption of water, poor energy efficiency, waste management issues and serious negative environmental impacts. The tourism industry must be pressured to take on the challenge of an authentic response to the climate change crisis by implementing measures to reduce energy consumption in tourism establishments by employing energy-efficient and appropriate green technologies. We recognise that this may require a significant transformation of current forms of mass tourism and we urge a serious engagement on this issue to reduce tourism’s climate change footprint. Conclusion: Widening the Scope of who Benefits from Tourism We hope the above analysis, while by no means exhaustive, is able to highlight positive directions in the mandate and report of the Working Group Report. We also hope that many areas critical to how tourism is visioned and implemented in or country can be integrated into the worldview of the XI Plan. We appeal to the Planning Commission to consider an approach that is more broad-based and inclusive in the creation of its documents. We urge it to keep in view that the marketing, promotion and growth of tourism is certainly important. But alongside, who grows, who benefits, who is harmed by its unrestricted and unregulated growth, is tourism non-exploitative, is it socially just and equitable, are its processes of planning and implementation democratic – these are equally important concerns. We look forward to seeing the XI Plan related to tourism truly inclusive and people centred. This, we believe, will do justice to an activity that is ultimately based on people – the tourist and the communities visited.
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1 Goa refers 150 illegal land deals to RBI http://www.deccanherald.com/Content/Jul72007/national2007070611427.asp 2 The Planning Commission was set up by a Resolution of the Government of India in March 1950 in pursuance of declared objectives of the Government to promote a rapid rise in the standard of living of the people by efficient exploitation of the resources of the country, increasing production and offering opportunities to all for employment in the service of the community. Refer http://planningcommission.nic.in/aboutus/history/about.htm 3 In2002, the Union tourism ministry has recommended closure of tourist offices in Moscow, Tel Aviv, Buenos Aires, Stockholm and Madrid costing 6 crore to the exchequer. Then India earned Rs 14,000 crore foreign exchange from tourism and taxes worth Rs 3,500 crore. The tourism ministry had 18 offices abroad that cost the government Rs 60 crore annually. In 2004, in discussions on the Xth Five Year plan, Deputy Chairman Planning Commission K C Pant asked the Union tourism ministry to reduce the number of government-of-India tourism offices abroad. He suggested that the approach to promotion of tourism overseas should focus at developing commercial agencies in foreign cities.
4 BBC news 27th June07 World Bank estimates suggested that 87% of marginal farmers and 70% of small farmers in India had no access to credit from a formal financial body, often relying instead on "extortionate money lenders". Although agriculture makes up just a fifth of India's economy, two-thirds of the population make a living from the land. Estimates for the overall number of deaths among farmers in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra since 2001 range from 3,600 to 18,000. 5 UNED and UK project report on Gender & Tourism: Women's Employment and Participation in Tourism"- UNED and UK project, 1999 6 There are a few initiatives in progress in India that are beginning to orient tourism development towards indigenous community needs with some even being community-owned and initiated. These include the UNDP and MoT’s Endogenous Rural Tourism Project where few sites work with indigenous communities, work of NGOs in East and Northeast India towards striking a balance between cultural, ecological conservation and tourism and few village-level initiatives like in Khonoma, Nagaland. 7 Ministries junk sub-Plan for Dalits, Business Standard June 12 , 2007 8 PM gets cracking on Climate : Deccan Herald July 14th 2007
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