In a first, the government Thursday came out with guidelines for adventure tourism in the country, governing activities such as mountaineering, bungee jumping and scuba diving to ensure that they are conducted in a safe manner.
The guidelines cover 15 land-based, seven air-based and seven water-based activities.
Ministry of Tourism, along with the Adventure Tour Operators Association of India (ATOAI), has formulated the guidelines which will standardise the safety and quality norms for adventure tourism in India.
“70 per cent of Himalayas are in our country and we have 8,000 km of coastline, we have tropical forests, deserts and beaches. Why can’t we have a share of the pie of adventure tourism? We have to make these activities safe and secure for tourists,” Tourism Minister K J Alphons said while releasing the guidelines.
The 170-page document covers land, air and water based activities which include mountaineering, trekking, bungee jumping, paragliding, kayaking, scuba diving, snorkeling, river rafting and many other sports.
The guidelines codify the standard operating procedures (SOPs) and instructions for risk mitigation and emergencies as well as provide set rules for safety precautions, training required, insurance, medical safety and other requirements to participate in such activities.
It has also issued SOPs for rescues, age limit for every sport, training, flying permissions, equipments, use of sign board, trained manpower, risk management strategy, inspections and maintenance among others. Insurance liabilities, death and disabilities are also covered in the guidelines.
Detailed guidelines are aimed at educating tour operators and other concerned agencies about important safety requirements and lesser-known dangers.
The guidelines also enumerate the basic minimum standards for grant of recognition to operators which includes mandatory registration with the local tourism department, minimum qualification for staff, regular training of staff, and a ‘leave no trace’ policy to conform to high sustainability standards.
As of now, the adventure tourism industry is a 430 billion dollar industry and growing at a rate of 46 per cent per annum. It is expected to hit the one trillion mark in the next 10 years, experts said.