Resist pressure to issue travel advisories: India

June 13th, 2008 - 7:38 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Ambika Soni

New Delhi, June 13 (IANS) India Friday appealed to countries to resist “pressure” to issue travel advisories in the wake of “untoward incidents of crime or terrorism” as these have an adverse impact on the livelihood of people solely dependent on the tourism industry. “In the spirit of cooperation, may I urge all the member countries (of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation) to consciously resist pressure for issuing of advisories immediately following untoward incidents of crime or terrorism because such incidents are unpredictable in any region,” India’s Tourism Minister Ambika Soni said in Jeju Islands in South Korea Friday.

UNWTO is a United Nations agency that deals with tourism and compiles the World Tourism Rankings.

Soni, who was addressing the two-day 83rd session of the executive council meeting of UNWTO, also said that the tourism sector should guard itself against volatile economic trends and unforeseen natural disasters to maintain high growth rates, according to a statement issued here.

The tourism minister’s appeal comes in the wake of the US and Britain issuing travel advisories for its citizens, warning them about the civil unrest in India’s northeastern hill station Darjeeling and the floods in its commercial capital Mumbai.

Soni, however, admitted: “Incidents of harassment of tourists and terrorist attacks, even though they may be isolated, can severely undermine tourism. All the effort that goes into image building of tourism gets washed out because of these incidents.”

Emphasising on cooperation between the member countries, Soni, chairperson of the executive council of the UN body, said there should be sharing of information on terrorists’ movement across borders and cooperation amongst police forces against criminal nexus networks.

“A climate of safety and security is also very important for the growth of tourism industry.”

Expressing her concern over the impact of unabated inflation and increasing oil prices on the tourism industry, Soni urged better coordination among the member countries and a collective strategy to tackle climate change.

Despite troubles, South Asia has been maintaining a promising tourism growth at eight percent, Soni said.

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