Dr. Mahesh Sharma

Union Minister of State for Tourism (Independent Charge)

Government of India







It has come to my notice that a draft National Tourism Policy has been placed on the Ministry’s website on May 1st, 2015, inviting comments by May 10th, 2015. This provides less than 10 days time to study the document, investigate related issues and prepare comments, let alone community interactions on the same, which needs much more time. The fishing, farming and tribal communities are most impacted by tourism. Government’s cynicism towards the common citizens is evident from their attitude – the document has not been translated in local languages.


Further, there are several issues with the content of the draft policy, summarised as under:


·      The draft tourism policy document essentially sub-serves the interests of established tourism industry, both national and international.


·      There has been no observation regarding the negative impacts of present tourism. As such the reasoning to have the present policy document is blind to that need.


·      It fails to clearly indicate the principles or the manner of accessing the tourist destinations. Words like ‘sustainable’ or ‘benefit to community’ are too vague.


·      Without defining the above basics it goes on to depict a grand picture of resurgent tourism sector able to utilise global and national possibilities almost to the point of saturation. Given the government’s role in promoting business house based, high end, ecocidal and unsustainable tourism, this policy document will turn out to be a policy document aimed for further destruction of our natural and cultural assets as well as social values in the name of tourism.


·      It subverts the democratic nature of governance in the country by proposing to place tourism in the concurrent list and forming para-statal bodies to take key decisions, thus again bypassing Gram Sabhas, Municipalities and state tourism departments and tourism development corporations.


·      The need of the hour is to promote community based, eco-friendly, sustainable tourism. The present policy document on tourism fails to guarantee the same.



I am also given to understand that the Ministry intends announcing the policy in the month of May 2015. Tourism is a serious issue having overarching impacts on people. What is the urgency in announcing this policy, at the cost of the interests of the people?


Given the serious lapse in policy formulation process and concerns regarding the text, the process should be opened up to include wider consultations with people who are affected by tourism and civil society organizations working on these issues, which in my calculated opinion would not take less than one year.


As a fellow Parliamentarian and also as a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport Tourism and Culture, I urge upon you that the Ministry may please desist from announcing the policy in its current form and content and instead initiate a process of policy formulation which is inclusive and constitutional.