India foils attempt to rank tourist destinations


NEW DELHI – India — along with France, Brazil and Iran — has foiled an attempt to rank tourist destinations across the world.

Allowing the Montreal-based World Centre of Excellence for Destinations (CED) to certify and grade tourist destinations was a key agenda of the two-day meeting of the executive council of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) in Madrid last week.

Articulating India’s reservations, Union Minister for Culture and Tourism Ambika Soni — who chaired the meeting — said this would lead to standardising of cultures, heritage and biodiversity of nations, and could seriously undermine the concept of diversity that drives global tourism.

Technical help

The Indian contention was also supported by Costa Rica, Ghana and Spain. The nations which backed Ms. Soni are, along with India, members of the Working Group set up by UNWTO to examine the by-laws and procedures for running the CED.

Instead of assuming the role of a certification agency, it was decided that the CED would extend technical assistance to destinations in developing countries to achieve excellence and attract more tourists.

Resilience Committee

The executive council also agreed to create a Resilience Committee to support its members with accurate economic analyses and response mechanisms to combat challenges arising out of global uncertainties due to the financial crisis.

Tourism businesses are already feeling the credit crunch and it is estimated that consumers will cut down further on travel expenses in the days ahead when the impact of the economic slowdown will be more widely felt.