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Sunday, 31 March 2013 - 10:21am IST | Place: Bangalore | Agency: DNA
Post-Delhi gang-rape, tourists begin avoiding India.

Inflow of foreign tourists into India has registered a significant drop of 25% in the last three months despite the onset of the tourist season, following the rape incidents reported countrywide.

The series of sexual crimes, beginning with the heinous rape of a physiotheraphy student in Delhi last December, and continuing with the latest incident of a gang-rape of a Swiss tourist in Madhya Pradesh in December last year impacted the tourism industry not only in NCR region but also in other major cities like Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune, Ahemdabad, Lucknow, Jaipur, Dehradun, Agra, etc, according to a study undertaken by Assocham Social Development Foundation (ASDF).

Assocham obtained the results after surveying 1,200 tour operators from different cities.  The reasons attributed are falling levels of safety and security and continuous global economic slowdown.

Releasing the survey titled “Trends in Tourists inflow in the past three months”, Assocham secretary general DS Rawat said the industry had been impacted primarily due to deteriorating standards of safety and security. In-bound foreign tourists have opted for other Asian countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, etc. The situation has been further aggravated by the advisory issued by various countries to their citizens visiting India to be cautious, and in some cases to even avoid India. 

The survey further highlights that from December 2012 onwards the inflow of women foreign tourists to the country went down by 35%.

here has been adverse impact on tourism industry, reveals the Assocham. The impact of Delhi gang-rape is now visible and more pronounced in other metros and large townships, said  Rawat. He pointed out that last year over six lakh tourists had visited various tourists destinations such as Agra, Jaipur, Udaipur, Kashmir valley, Goa, Mysore and Thiruvananthapuram during the winter seasons. But this season, there is a relatively substantial fall of tourist arrival in India. It has seriously impacted the inflow of foreign tourist to the “Maha Khumbh”.
“During the last winter season, Goa, Jaipur, Agra and Kerala happened to be highly congested with tourists, but due to recent incidents in India, there has been substantial fall in the tourist traffic,” as reported by tourist companies and tour operators.
The survey also found that tourism industry has suffered the most in Delhi-NCR followed by other tier-II & tier-III cities like Goa, Agra, Jaipur, etc. 

“India attempts to enhance its image in the eyes of foreign tourists. But, a brutal rape case in Delhi and recent incident of Swiss woman in Madhya Pradesh, or to the young British woman who had jumped out of the window in Agra to avoid a sexual attack has raised concerns about the safety of female travelers to the country. The crime and the woman’s subsequent death generated international attention,” said Rawat.
The government is making tourism as a lead industry because of its immense potential for higher revenue realisation and a foreign exchange earner in view of the difficult current account deficit facing the country,  he said. Nearly 72% of the tour operators reported cancellation of bookings, especially from women tourists, in the last three months, mainly from UK, USA, Canada, Australia.

Travel agencies routinely recommend specific safety measures for female tourists in India and tour operators always recommend that female travelers exercise vigilance and visit tourist spots within certain hours.

According to union tourism ministry data, in 2012, about 66 lakh international tourist visited India and the country earned Rs9,628 crore. The ministry has set the goal of increasing foreign tourist arrivals by 12% a year so as to double foreign exchange earnings by 2016.
Rawat said the recent crimes against women could impact in-bound tourism in long term. So, security needs to be further strengthened at major tourist places and a programme to sensitize the importance of tourism and respect for tourist be continuously held across the country.

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