Meenakshi Sharma, DG, Ministry of Tourism (MOT), says they will be working towards a common protocol in all states, as well as the new tourism policy with responsible tourism at its core.
Meenakshi Sharma believes that the pent up desire of people to travel will lead to the opening of tourism. But, building confidence among them will be a task, for which MOT has taken several initiatives already. While domestic travel continues to be a priority, different SOPs, guidelines and quarantine rules being followed by states is a hurdle for all. Thus arises the need for common protocol across the country. Sharma adds, “It is absolutely required, and MOT would be an advocate for it. We need to start working towards making the state governments agree. If we start now, maybe in 2-3 weeks’ time, we can have some consensus, and even ICMR and Ministry of Health could come up with suggestions on the request of MOT and the industry. Persuading state governments requires some reality check on ground as well. I am sure there will be no difficulty on the principle of it; there may be some difficulty in implementing it depending on where states stand in the COVID situation.”
The DG adds that now is also the time to stress on responsible tourism, including a policy that supports such initiatives and infrastructure projects, and the willingness of the travellers and the industry to be responsible. “We are in the process of making some changes in the new tourism policy, making responsible tourism its foundation. We can’t discuss responsible tourism as a separate entity, but it should be a part of everything we do going forward. There are more elements that will be added as we move forward, one of which will be health and hygiene. It’s also about the practices of people and the behaviour of the traveller as a responsible tourist. It cannot only be the responsibility of service providers alone. This will now be our priority and we will be working on it,” she says.