India tourism reels following sexual attacks

Taj Mahal in morning mist

Image credit: Nomad Tales, November 2008

In the last three months the number of foreign tourists to India from Western lands has plummeted by 25% overall, and 35% fewer women have visited.   This is according to a survey of 1200 tour operators in India conducted by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India.

This sharp decline has resulted from widespread international reporting of the horrific rape of an Indian woman, and further reports of savage attacks and sexual attacks on foreigners.

The research shows that the tourists have not stayed home, which is troubling to the travel industry there.  They have diverted to safer countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam.

The British Foreign Office recommends no travel at all to certain parts of India, and essential travel only to other parts of the country.  They also consider that there is a risk of terrorism through-out the country.

The tourists that have gone to India since the attacks have shunned the areas where the attacks took place.

Of course, not all of the tourists will have been chased away by the personal security risk: Some will be staying away because of the increased visa costs: the price of a visa for UK residents has recently gone up and is now £92.20.  For the US citizens it is now $76.00

ASSOCHAM Secretary General, Mr. D S Rawat, acknowledged the long-term impact of the attacks on inbound tourism.  He further noted that “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”.  [sic]

This will impact on the Indian government’s plans to boost tourism.  They have a plan to double the amount of foreign exchange that tourism earns, by 2016.  The dramatic loss of tourists has occurred during what is traditionally the peak season for visitors to the country.

The first expensive lesson learned by India is that tourists go where they feel safe and welcome.

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