Travellers leave their homes trusting faraway lands. Every place has a responsibility to care for its guests and see to it that they return home safely. Unfortunately, Kerala has a long way to go in protecting the rights of tourists.
A tourist from Ireland died after passing out in a boat in the Thekkady Lake. A British woman hurt herself after stumbling over a pavement slab at Fort Kochi. These are just recent examples of the poor quality of infrastructure in tourism hotspots in Kerala.
All top-class tourist destinations have first-aid facilities and ambulance on call. These places are not frequented by local people. The travellers cannot go hunt for facilities when the need arises.
Tourist destinations in Europe, America and Asia have put in place better facilities for tourists. The aged and people who use wheelchairs get priority in all those places. They even get priority in parking areas. Even steps would be marked in those places. Strict rules are in place.
Officers at various levels are held answerable in case of an accident in a tourist place in foreign countries. In India, however, such situations are viewed as normal.
In places that get a lot of snow, people can sue a homeowner for compensation if they skid on uncleared snow on his walkway. The homeowner has a responsibility to keep his front yard pretty and secure.
We know when a country is developed when it cares for its people, not when it increases the size of the army.
We have to care for each tourist place in this age of social media scrutiny. Just one post on social media can sound the death knell for a tourist place. A tourist space should be safe for a tourist.
We have no dearth of breath-taking tourist places. Yet we still do not know how to present it to the world. Do we have a protocol for tourist places? Each area needs a protocol depending on the terrain. You do not have to visit foreign countries to draw up a protocol. You can get all models abroad by a click of your mouse. This is the age of information technology.
We do not have a master plan for a tourist place. The staff at those places are not trained properly. They have to be trained in administering first aid in case of an accident and transporting tourists to the nearby hospitals.
We need authority for ensuring the safety of tourist areas. That authority should be bestowed with powers. Travellers become confident of returning to our land when they know that their problems are taken up and addressed. The onus is on the authorities to plan and act.
(The writer is a traveller)