Legal Regime for Protecting the Interests of Tourists in India

Published on 19 Jul 2017 by Team

Travel companies and tour consultants provide extraordinarily and out of the box services to their clients in India. The objective of these companies is to provide and redress the needs of their clients in a faster and efficient manner.  The tourism industry provides ancillary services to their clients. The objective is to entertain their clients in a most appropriate manner as possible in the most efficient manner. The strategies and plan are to provide services which were promised by them and if they there are conditions or situations which were not foreseeable then to make some good alternative changes whenever possible.

International Institutions 

With the Boom in the tourism Industry around the world and with the increase in various cross border emergencies, it is imperative to protect the interest of tourists from fraud and any threat to life or bodily injury. Be that as it may, the issue of the security of universal sightseers in emergencies did not pull in much consideration of lawmakers in the previous couple of years. In this manner, it is discovered that the security of worldwide voyagers in crisis is infrequently secured by both residential and global controls. Delightfully, a few global associations, particularly like UNWTO, have led the pack to set out on drafting traditions in such manner in late two years and made incredible accomplishments. It is solidly trusted that those draft traditions will assume a vital part in compensating for this lawful proviso sooner rather than later.

Convention on Protection of Tourists and Rights and Obligations of Tourism Service Providers

The UNWTO Convention on Protection of Tourists and Rights and Obligations of the Tourism Service Providers is one such draft legislation which aims to safegaurd the interests of tourists. The purpose of this Convention is to set out the policies and measures of States Parties to ensure and promote an appropriate degree of protection of tourists during emergency situations and as consumers by clarifying the rights and obligations of tourism service providers. The convention aims to balance the interests of the tourists and the service providers, this is done by clearly defining, under Article 3 of the convention, what is meant by 'tourist', 'service providers' and 'excursionists'. The convention aims to nurture international cooperation, the virtue of Article 4 of the convention, by urging different nation states across the globe to ratify the convention and propose sufficient domestic legislation and guidlines to protect the interests of the tourists.

The Indian Point of View 

India's tourism industry is flourishing because of an expansion in outside tourist arrivalsand more noteworthy than before head out by Indians to local and abroad goals. Local travellers are additionally filling the business' recovery. The forceful publicizing effort "Incredible India" by the administration has likewise had a commitment in changing India's picture from that of a place that is known for wind charmers and starting new enthusiasm among foreign tourists. The opportunities in tourism in India range from constructing high-quality accommodation facilities, operating tours and travel circuit to the development of specialized tourism like history tourism, adventure tourism, medical tourism (Ayurveda and other forms of Indian medications), spiritual tourism, beach tourism, eco-tourism etc. The government is making a tremendous effort in the areas of investment and infrastructure with an overall aim to boost the tourism industry. At the present growth rate, the sector is very healthy and the boom will continue. By 2020, Tourism in India could contribute Rs 8,50,000 crores to the GDP. The highlights of the Indian brand of tourism are:

  • Pilgrimage tourism: India is famous for its temples and that is the reason that among the different kinds of tourism in India, pilgrimage tourism is increasing most rapidly.
  • Eco-tourism: Among the types of tourism in India, eco-tourism has grown recently. Ecotourism entails the sustainable preservation of a naturally endowed area or region. This is becoming more and more significant for the ecological development of all regions that have tourist value.
  • Cultural tourism: India is known for its rich cultural heritage and an element of mysticism, which is why tourists come to India to experience it for themselves.
  • Wildlife tourism: India has a rich forest cover which has some beautiful and exotic species of wildlife – some of which that are even endangered and very rare. This has boosted wildlife tourism in India.

Domestic Mechanism

India's brand follows and aggresive strategy where Companies appoint travel agents for addressing the needs of the clients in the cities they think fit. The Guidelines according to Government of India Ministry of Tourism; Travel agent/agent is the one who looks into the requirements of tickets of air, railways, passport, accommodation, and entertainment related services etc. THE TRAVEL AGENTS FEDERATION OF INDIA states that travel consultants can include individual, partnership firm, association or limited company.

The foreign tourist travelling to India have a Contract with the company they employ for their entertainment in India. These companies have certain terms and conditions which are written, but there are some activities that the consumer desires and those activities are not stated in the contract so they are promised by these tourism companies to the employer/tourists. The question that arises is that is a promising part of the contract.

In a scenario, where one party makes a promise and another one relies on the former one (it can be financial assistance also) then the court will consider the promise as a complete contract.

There are majorly Exclusion clauses present in the contract, wherein the companies mention such activities which expressly excluded by the companies. These are included to exclude the right of a party or restrict the rights.

Exclusion clauses majorly include negligence of any sort. Negligence is covered under the law of torts imposes aspects such as:

  1. Harm caused due to carelessness
  2. Failure to warn
  3. Failure to provide a safe and secure environment

Tourists as Consumers 

Unfair Trade Practice and Restrictive Trade Practice are covered under Section 2 (1) (r) of Consumer Protection Act. Unfair trade practices according to consumer protection act are trade practices which promote the sale and supply of any products or goods, but it adopts any deceptive practice or method which includes:

  1. False representation of style, composition, quantity, quality, standard etc.
  2. The above representation can be goods or services
  3. False representation also includes the old goods or second-hand product as a new product.
  4. A false or misleading statement is also included in this category.

Remedies and Damages

When a contracting party has breached the promise, the other party is entitled to receive remedies for such breach. In such a scenario, damages may include:

  1. Liquidated damages: It is the amount which is specified in the contract. If one party breaches the contract, then such party must compensate the amount which is specified in the contract.
  2. Punitive damages: These are the damages which are imposed as the punishment for breach of contract.
  3. Consequential damages: These are the damages which the breaching party must pay to the other party. This amount puts the other party in the same position as they would have been in if the contract was performed.
  4. Nominal damages: These are the damages which are provided by the breaching party to the non-breaching party. But this is a minimal amount which is paid.

This is an illustration of a certificate issued to verified tour operators/ travel agents etc. Picture courtesy- Blutours.in

Honourable mentions of steps being taken by the Government of India for Protection of Tourists

The Ministry of Tourism has taken following steps/initiatives for safeguarding the interest of tourists and tourism agencies: 

  1. Adoption of a code of conduct for Safe and Hon’ble Tourism
  2. Grant of Central Financial Assistance to the State Governments of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh for setting up of Tourist Facilitation and Security Organization (TFSO) on a pilot basis. 
  3. Issue of Guidelines on Safety and Security of Tourists for State Governments/Union Territories and Tips for Travellers in September 2014. 
  4. Formulation of a voluntary scheme for granting approval to hotel projects and classification of functioning hotels under Star System from the point of view of their suitability for international tourists. 
  5. Formulation of a voluntary scheme of approving Travel Agents, Tour Operators, Adventure Tour Operators and Tourist Transport Operators to encourage quality, standard and service in these categories. 
  6. The launch of a 24x7 Toll-Free Multi-Lingual Tourist Helpline in 12 Languages including Hindi & English on the toll-free number 1800111363 or on a shortcode 1363 offering a “multi-lingual helpdesk” in the designated languages. 
  7. Creation of Tourist Police in various states. For example- Goa has a functional tourist police wing, which is generally branched out from the State Police unit.

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