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Resource Center
Is India Trying to Subdue Kashmir Through Religious Tourism? 
July 17, 2018
The Indian state under the increasing influence of Hindu nationalism is using Hindu pilgrimage sites..
“Aswachh Bharat” marks Amarnath yatra 
July 15, 2018

Tourism and Plastic: Exploring the Contours 

June 04, 2018
The threat that plastic poses to the health of the planet has been raising alarm bells for some time..
As Women, Are We Really Economically Empowered A view from the point of view of Tourism 
April 10, 2018

Do we enjoy the same quality of life as our male counterparts? How can we, when the figures of women..

Meet the Majid Squad, a Group that Voluntarily Cleans Filth on Amarnath Yatra Routes 
January 29, 2018
Notwithstanding the National Green Tribunal directions, Governor N N Vohra recently decided that a 60-day-long..
  • Key Interventions
  • Resources
  • Overview

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World over, tourism has always been an under-regulated sector and India is no exception. The unregulated expansion of tourism in violation of rights of the local communities raises serious concerns about people’s right to self governance at the grassroots level. The rapidity with which laws, regulations and other statutory instruments are being modified and diluted seems to support private-sector led mode of development. It has become critical for civil society to build awareness and capacity of communities and individuals towards exercising their rights in relation to tourism planning and implementation in their local region. Constant monitoring and advocacy efforts with various ministries and departments have continued to be a key strategy.

Land Grab and Sea Grabs for TourismIn the initial years the focus of our work was on local self governing institutions and was later broadened to include research and advocacy on legislative and policy changes. We do this through research, and the trends and changes observed help us strengthen local communities on issue based campaigns struggles and advocacy efforts with the government. Our interventions are monitoring tourism trends and issues, analysing the practices and impacts, disseminating it to communities affected by such developments. We aim to democratising tourism decisions, planning and implementation by building capacity of communities with the active involvement of local panchayats to decide upon the kind and form of tourism developments to be allowed/ disallowed and posing critical questions to policymakers and the industry. “Who Really Benefits from Tourism” is the focal question. Drawing linkages from the ground up is the aim of every action.

The involvement of panchayats was considered important as the resources that tourism industry uses, like land, water, natural environment, local infrastructures etc fall under jurisdiction of institutions of local self-governance, namely the Panchayat Raj Institutions in rural areas and Urban Local Bodies in towns and cities. Local self governing institutions have knowledge about local land usage, strategic locations, environmental implications, social and economic implications and benefit sharing amongst the local community. However over the years it was seen that most state governments, in practice, did not devolve powers, functions, funds and functionaries to the institutions of local self governance. Also, there has been growing trend at national and state level to dilute powers and functions of local self-governing institutions.

Tourism Needs to Privilege and Benefit Local Economies and CommunitiesIn 1993, we offered a workshop on Tourism and the Law (in collaboration with Legal Resources for Social Action LRSA, Chengalpettu), at a National Conference on Environment Human Rights and Law. This placed tourism issues on the agenda of a wide spectrum of national local and issue based organisations. This National Conference resulted in the formation of the Indian Peoples Tribunal on Human Rights and Environment. Subsequently internal research on Tourism and the law in 2000-2001 enabled us to embark on a separate programme more recently combining issues of governance, policy and law in its current shape.

In order to back our interventions and campaigns with evidence we have undertaken various research studies over the years. Studying the powers and functions of local self governing bodies, implications of special tourism zones, and studying proposed and existing legislation that impact planning and peoples participation in planning and policy making have been the focus of this programme.

We have initiated campaigns against the proposal of Ministry of Tourism to have Special Tourism Zones (STZs) in the line of SEZs in the country, the Right to Information and Tourism campaign in Andhra Pradesh and against the proposal of replicating the Kerala Tourism (Conservation and Preservation of Areas) Act, 2005 in other parts of the country by the Planning Commission constituted Working Group and Steering Group on Tourism.

The larger debates on development models have started acknowledging that tourism does lead to acquisition of land and involuntary displacement of people. The People’s Collective for Economic Social and Cultural Rights invited us to contribute to the NGO Status Report to the UN Committee. We contributed with reference to India, on economic, social and cultural rights under the section ‘Livelihood Development and Displacement’.

Click on the ‘Resources’ tab above to read Governance, Law and Tourism Programme related papers, publications and presentations.

Click on the ‘Key Interventions’ tab above to know about Governance, Law and Tourism Programme related campaigns, events and interventions.