Since long, almost a year now, I was thinking of writing on Indian tourism industry and related regulatory reforms. But somehow not able to find time to start writing on this crucial area. Now, to make sure that I write on this and can share and discuss with those interested in this important aspect of Indian tourism among the tourism fraternity, I have decided to write this in a few installments! This one is the first of the series. My endeavour will be to write one in every week through next 3 to 4 weeks.
As we know that unregulated tourism activities have changed large number of tourism destinations in India beyond repair! But, to add to this pinch further, al these destinations are expanding their space of activities much beyond their own territory. And, of course the tourism stakeholders, especially, the business owners cannot be blamed for this since their only objective remains maximization of revenue and profit. In the process, the ecological balance of the areas are getting destroyed completely leading towards environmental disasters awaiting for all of us. And, this situation has arisen to a large extent due to absence of regulatory framework relating to tourism industry. In fact, if one looks into the tourism industry closely, it would be noticed that there is hardly any regulatory framework in place that can be used for promotion of sustainable tourism. In other words, regulatory framework that can stop unwanted activities on part of the business and facilitating pro-sustainable tourism activities, can hardly be identified.
There are large number of factors behind this absence of regulatory framework relating to tourism sector in India. One of the most important fact is hardly any study has been done to seek a tourism regulatory framework in the country. Fortunately, I can get hold of perhaps the only significant paper available on tourism legislation in India which was prepared by the Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel management (IITTM) because of one of my close friend working with the same institute. the paper was written long back, sometime in mid 1990. The principal author of this paper was a legal expert. Since the focus of the study was also to identify the legislative part of the tourism sector, as expected, the paper concentrated more on the legal aspects instead of an analysis of the merits of these legislation in promoting tourism activities. And, it goes without saying that sustainable tourism did not figure anywhere because in 1990s tourism industry itself was not really recognized properly in India regarding economic context. In fact, till today, sustainable tourism does not bear much importance in India, except some mention about it in bits and pieces. however, this paper is one f the most important one to understand the complexities in framing a regulatory process regarding tourism industry in India. Just to provide the extent of complications, let me enlist some of the laws, as mentioned in the paper, relating to tourism industry. This itself is enough strong to suggest how difficult and yet how important is the regulatory framework for Indian tourism sector.
1. The essential commodities act, 1955, 2. Code of criminal procedure, 1973, 3. The airport authority of India act, 1994, 4. The child labour (prohibition and regulation) act, 1986, 5. The motor vehicle act, 1988, 6. Foreign exchange regulation act, 1973, 7. Consumer protection act, 1986, 8. The environment (protection) act, 1986, 9. The prevention of cruelty to animals act, 1960, 10. The public liability insurance act, 1991, 11. The railways act, 1989, 12. The sarais act, 1867, 13. The immoral traffic (prevention) act, 1956, 14. The employers liability act, 1938, 15. The passport act, 1967, 16. The wild life (protection) act, 1972, 17. The prevention of food adulteration act, 1954, 18. The monopolies and restrictive trade practices act, 1969, 19. Forest conservation act, 1980, 20. The road transport corporation act, 1950, 21. The central excise and sale act, 1950, 22. The Indian partnership act, 1932, 23. The urban land ceiling act, 1976, 24. The industries (development and regulation) act, 1951, 25. The explosives act, 1884, 26. The Indian penal code, 1860, 27. The water (prevention and contro of pollution) act, 1974 & the air (prevention) and control of pollution act, 1981, 28. The Indian contract act, 1872, 29. Development authority act, 30. Municipal act, 31. Ancient monument (site and remains) act, 1951
I believe this list is enough to suggest the complexity of the regulatory aspects thought about relating to tourism sector. If one considers this list, keeping in mind that this list is some of the legislation relating to tourism sector, creating a regulatory framework for tourism sector is not only humongous but also almost impossible since different departments are involved in developing these legislation from the perspective of their own requirement, rather than tourism sector. Therefore, it is crucial that tourism sector regulations are thought of separately, which may include elements of these as well as acts from other domains, but under one single umbrella.
Another big hurdle is constitutional provisions for central and state governments. unless a synchronized regulatory framework is prepared, it will not be able to remove the obstacles or barriers towards a sustainable tourism development in the country. I will discuss this issue in the next blog of this series. Thank you.