Concerned over the rising incidents of foreign tourists being raped or molested, Rajasthan has decided to strengthen its tourism police force by inducting retired defence personnel for security.
The decision was taken after the Centre directed all state governments to take steps to check these crimes.
"We will implement the Centre's directive strictly," Urmila Rajoria, a tourism department official, told IANS.
The state, which has several popular holiday destinations, currently has about 150 tourism police personnel who are deployed in important tourist spots. They are, however, paid a meagre salary of Rs.2,300 per month.
Apart from recruiting more security personnel, the state also plans to increase their remuneration.
"We already have around 40 posts lying vacant. The details are being worked out for appointing more and a proposal in this regard would be sent to the state government soon," an official said.
In the last two years, Rajasthan's image of a safe tourist haven has been scarred by several instances of tourists, especially foreigners, being raped or molested.
In 2005, an auto-rickshaw driver and his accomplice in Jodhpur raped a 47-year-old German tourist. The two were sentenced to life imprisonment by a fast-track court within a month.
Biti Mohanty, son of a senior police officer of Orissa, raped a 26-year-old German student in Alwar in March 2006. Mohanty was found guilty and sentenced to seven years' imprisonment by a fast-track court. But he jumped parole in December 2006 and has been absconding since then.
In April 2006, a Japanese woman was raped and robbed of Rs.54,000 by the son of a hotel manager in the holy city of Pushkar. Babloo, the main accused, was awarded seven years' rigorous imprisonment.
Pushkar was in the news again when an American tourist complained of being molested just last month. Earlier in January, a British journalist alleged that she had been raped by a guest house owner in Udaipur. Known as the city of lakes, it attracts hordes of tourists year after year.
These shameful incidents had the Rajasthan tourism industry worried.
"These kinds of incidents bring bad name to the state. There has been a trend of people travelling alone, especially woman travellers, who would now be hesitant to come to the state," said Sanjay Kaushik, a travel agent.
He said that the government must take quick, stringent steps to check these crimes and restore Rajasthan's image.
The state, which boasts of several historical forts and palaces, the Thar desert and several religious shrines, saw a record arrival of 1.2 million foreigners and 17 million domestic tourists during the year 2005-06.
The rate of growth of tourism in Rajasthan has been phenomenal in the last few years - while the annual growth rate of domestic tourists has been seven per cent, that of international tourists has been five per cent.