Involve stakeholders in policy decisions for tourism promotion: tour operators

Report by: 
ROOPA LALL
Port Blair
25 Jul 2018

Various associations working in the tourism industry of these islands slammed the Andaman and Nicobar Administration for sabotaging the role of stakeholders while making policies for promotion of tourism. Citing some recent decisions, the associations, during a joint press conference held in a prominent city hotel, claimed that the one-sided decisions will have an adverse impact on the tourism industry here and expressed rage for not seeking the views of the stakeholders.
Speaking to journalists, Mr M Vinod, president of Andaman Association of Tour Operators, said that on one hand the administration preaches that the historic Cellular Jail should not be exploited for commercial profits whereas one the other, the administration recently imposed sharp hike in entry fees for the Sound & Light Show. “The Tourism Department itself commercialised the Sound & Light Show by increasing fee in three classes, Rs 50, Rs 100 and Rs 150.” Criticizing the administration for not involving the tourism stakeholders during crucial meetings held by NITI Aayog here, Mr Vinod said that while the government proposes to open six more islands for tourism, some of the existing ones have remained closed for the past three to four months. “The administration never bothered to arrange for interaction of NITI Aayog members with tourism stakeholders and PRIs. Probably the administration is aware of the fact that if such meetings are organised, the approach of the administration towards development of tourism will be exposed. Such indifferent attitude of the administration towards stakeholders will not be tolerated any further,” cautioned Mr Vinod.
Speaking on the occasion, the President of Small Boat Association, Mr Joti Rajan alleged lack of coordination between government departments towards tourism promotion. “For instance, if Port Management Board agrees to a proposal, the Tourism Department gives a negative opinion and the proposal if left in limbo. The administration should involve stakeholders in all policy decisions for development of the tourism industry considered the back of the economy of these islands,” he added. Among others, the stakeholders demanded withdrawal of enhanced rate for Light & Sound Show, involvement of Director General of Shipping in policy decisions pertaining to tourism sector, declaration of Inland Vessel (I.V.) areas, identification of new islands for tourism, extension to the period of plying of existing boats under IV rules, withdrawal of General Purpose (GP) Rating for Small Boats, development of basic tourism infrastructure, introduction of Tourist Guide facility, permit for tourist vehicles, suspension of restriction to visit / stay at Ross Islands between 2.00 pm to 5.00 pm, expanding Sunset tourism, identification of new destinations, conduct of Live Music shows, Setting up of Single Window system for issues of permits, registration for tourism related activities, deploying MV Coral Queen thrice a week to Havelock, immediate implementation of Tourist Trade Policy Regulation, posting of full-time Secretary-cum-Director in the Tourism Department and larger participation of stakeholders in policy making processes.