destination india

Thursday, May 12, 2005

wooing the tourist

It was heartening to see Renuka Choudhury and Prafful Patel talk on TV about the proposal of introducing new services in airports to welcome foreign tourists. The proposal aims at extending greater courtesy to tourists by way of removing the innumerable hassles they have to face on landing up in our country with regard to immigration formalities, arranging transportation out of the airport, identifying suitable hotels and so on and so forth. It was also good to learn that these will not be handled by the Government but will be outsourced, thereby increasing efficiency.
Noble thoughts indeed.

Let us only hope that the exercise does not leave a bad taste in the mouth.

On the flip side, such decisions of the Government will be certain to encourage service providers to smack their lips in joy because, it can be safely assumed that those who will bag the contracts will be extremely well connected with the corridors of power. There will be lobbies to espouse their cause and they will get the authority to undertake such work – in all probability, people and agencies who have their own axes to grind, have already been identified. They may be local muscle men of political leaders or relatives of beauraucrats, or even off shore allies of local goons!

It is common knowledge that there exists rampant corruption in all our walks of life, we are accustomed to scams of immense magnitudes and unheard of proportions, those who are supposed to uphold the Law are often found to be on the wrong side of the Law. Therefore, a nexus is bound to emerge of hotel chains and transporters pooling their resources to fleece the unwary traveler.

This is not to belittle the efforts of the Government; but to put on record the fact that such situations have cropped up in the past and there is every likelihood of them reappearing. In the end, the authorities are forced to relent. It is for us to ensure that, the foreign tourists, who are supposed to carry back good impressions of our country, do not grind their teeth in anger and anguish and vow never to return.

None of us would like to see the maxim ‘if satisfied, tell others; if not tell us’ being booted out of the window and being rephrased with ‘if not satisfied, tell others; if satisfied, consider yourself an exception.’

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