An amendment bill was passed in the state assembly on Monday night to insert a new section 27-A in the Rajasthan Tourism Trade (Facilitation and Regulation) Act, 2010.
The house passed the Rajasthan Tourism Trade (Facilitation and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2021 with a voice vote.
Tourism is one of the key industries in Rajasthan which is visited by lakhs of domestic and foreign tourists every year.
According to the new section, the offence will be cognizable and bailable. At the same time, if the offence in sub-section 3 of section 13 is repeated, it will be non-bailable in sub-section 4 of section 13.
Participating in a debate on the bill, Minister of State for Tourism Govind Singh Dotasra said the legislation was brought in 2010 to boost tourism and prevent misbehaviour with tourists.
However, as it was not mentioned whether the offence was bailable or non-bailable and therefore, it had to be amended, he said.
But the accused went to the High Court which in January 2017 quashed an FIR on the grounds that the offences were not specifically provided in the Act as cognizable. Therefore, the amendments have been made, he said.
Welcoming the development, Sanjay Kaushik, secretary of Rajasthan Association of Tour Operators, said strict action against touts, called lapkas in local parlance, is necessary to make the tourists feel safe.
“Touting activities not only disturb tourists but also tarnish the image of the whole industry. The problem of lapkas is mainly in big cities like Jaipur and Udaipur,” Kaushik told PTI.
The lapkas pose as guides, mislead and force tourists to shop in order to get a commission and extort money from them. They also harass the tourists, Kaushik claimed.
Sunita Sharma, a national-level tourist guide and executive member of Tourist Federation of India, said touts are not regulated by the government and hence catching them is difficult.
“Such elements mislead tourists; extort money from them and it creates a very bad impression. Since they are not regulated by the government, catching them becomes difficult if they commit fraud. Hence, strict action against them is necessary,” she said.