Economy

India image dented as 3 foreign govts caution travellers

Meenakshi Verma Ambwani New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018

When the tourism ministry has been planning to increase India’s meagre share in international foreign tourist arrivals, the nation has been making global headlines for all the wrong reasons — sexual assaults on foreign tourists.

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In a blow to Incredible India, three foreign governments have issued travel advisories, warning their citizens to be cautious while touring the country

At a time when the Tourism Ministry has been planning aggressively to increase India’s meagre share in international foreign tourist arrivals, the nation has been making global headlines for all the wrong reasons — sexual assaults on foreign tourists. Also, when inbound tourism growth is in single digit with the big source markets facing a slowdown, any negative publicity for India can do much harm.



Unwanted attention

The UK has asked women travellers to exercise caution when travelling in India even if they are travelling in a group. It said British women have been victims of sexual assault in Goa, Delhi, Bangalore and Rajasthan and women travellers often receive unwanted attention in the form of verbal and physical harassment by individuals or groups of men. In its advisory, the US said that while India is generally a safe place for foreign visitors, rape is the fastest growing crime in India and among large cities Delhi experienced the highest number of crimes against women. “Although most victims have been local residents, recent sexual attacks against female visitors in tourist areas underline the fact that foreign women are at risk and should exercise vigilance,” it added.

A Swiss Embassy official told Business Line, “We will definitely keep the recent rape case in Madhya Pradesh under consideration, while updating our travel advisory for India.”

Reacting quickly, Minister for Tourism K. Chiranjeevi urged all Chief Ministers to step up safety measures for tourists.

With some 40 per cent of international visitors being women, travel companies believe the advisories can impact arrivals in the short term.

According to Tourism Ministry data, in 2012 about 6.6 million international tourists visited India and the country earned $17.74 billion. The Ministry has set the daunting goal of increasing foreign tourist arrivals by 12 per cent a year so as to double forex earnings by 2016 (keeping 2011 as the base).

Negative publicity

Talking about the recent crimes against both women, Madhavan Menon, Managing Director, Thomas Cook India, said, “What is happening is absolutely unacceptable and is a major blot on India’s reputation as a destination.”

Dipak Deva, CEO-India and South Asia, Kuoni Destination Management, said: “These incidents and negative publicity could impact inbound tourism in the short term.”

Subhash Goyal, President of Indian Association of Travel Operators, said “Security needs to be strengthened at major tourist places. The Ministry of Tourism’s proposal to start a tourist helpline in different languages is yet to begin.”

>meenakshi.v@thehindu.co.in

Published on March 20, 2013

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