The success or failure of a destination depends on ensuring a safe and secure environment for visitors. The recent boat accident in the Periyar Lake at Thekkady has emphasised the need to ensure safety and security with a view to providing quality services in the tourism sector.
The burgeoning tourism industry has come up with several recommendations to ensure the safety and security of the destination and tourists. The Confederation of Kerala Tourism Industry, in its recommendations submitted to the State government, pointed out that safety measures in the tourist destination should match infrastructure development.
“We need to implement safety measures similar to that practised at airports, air, rail and inland cruise terminals in boating locations, wildlife sanctuaries, adventure tourism locations, beaches, hotels, crowded shopping centres,” confederation president E.M. Najeeb and secretary M.R. Narayanan said.
The confederation has demanded more attention to the safety system and making protocol compulsory by law as part of creating tourism infrastructure in destinations across the State.
At all cruise locations, the number of boats would have to be limited considering the carrying capacity. Besides licence and certification, periodic checks have to be carried out to ascertain the safety of the boats. Systems and procedures followed internationally should be introduced, as the destination attracts tourists from all over the world.
Life jackets, warning and alert signages, written instructions and oral instructions by crew and deployment of specially trained crew should be made mandatory. Boat landing should be equipped with high-speed boats, safety personnel, drivers and tourist police.
“The boat accident that led to the death of 45 people has caused anxiety among the tourists. An investigation by a national agency with experts will be able to clear the doubts,” Mr. Najeeb said.
In the case of houseboats that have become the mascot of Kerala Tourism, the confederation had suggested that the skill and experience of the staff should be ascertained before appointment. Either tourist police or guards should be deployed in the house boats. High value public liability insurance should be provided to all the tourists.
Though Kerala is emerging as an adventure tourism destination, it has been pointed out that there is no necessary support service at locations like Munnar. Trained trekking experts and forest personnel should assist the trekking groups.
Watchful tourist police with good communication equipment and other law and order force supported by better mechanism to collect intelligence have been suggested to keep a tab on airports, railway stations and ports and to prevent harassment of tourists.
Apart from ensuring safety of the tourists, the confederation has said the security issues relating to the impact of terror, crime, epidemics management and crisis management should be looked into seriously.
The tourist places should also have a well laid down crisis management protocol to tackle accidents.
Tourists are the worst affected by the hartals called by political parties and adequate measures are needed to ensure their protection and their free movement. The recommendations were submitted to Minister for Tourism, Kodiyeri Balakrishnan recently.