Monday, April 1, 2013

India: Foreign Tourism Drops 25% Since December, Women Predominantly, Security Issues Cited

According to The Telegraph, A survey by Indian chambers of commerce has revealed that a 35% decline in the numbers of female foreign tourists since a a young medical student, 23, was raped and mutilated in December 2012, by six assailants on a moving Delhi bus before she was dumped on the road and left to die. 

The attack provoked protests throughout India and forced the government to introduce new tougher sentences for sexual assaults on women and fast-track courts to reassure women it was concerned for their safety. It also led India’s media to give greater prominence to reporting rape and sexual assault cases amid wider soul searching about the attitude of India’s men and families to women.
COMMENT: As most of our regular readers, one gang-rape of a foreign tourist and the attempted rape of another in recent weeks has "flagged" India's apparent toleration of sexual crime and abuses against women.

Of 1,200 tourist businesses surveyed more than 70% reported significant numbers of cancellations from British, American, Australian and Canadian women tourists, and a 25% decline over all.

The decline and the plummeting reputation of India as a safe tourist destination is a blow to the government which had expected tourist numbers to increase by 12% in 2013 as part of its plan to double foreign exchange earnings by 2016. More than six million foreign tourists visited India last year and helped generate more than £10 billion for the country’s economy.

The country’s reputation was damaged further when a number of foreign governments, including Britain, changed their travel advice to citizens following the gang rape on the Swiss woman last month. While they had previously urged women traveling alone to be cautious, following the attack they warned even those traveling in groups may not be safe.

Although it is commendable that many foreign governments have increased the candor of their travel warnings on India, the reality is that sexual assault on women, both residents and foreign, has been on the rise in India for over ten years, after a Swiss diplomat was raped in the capital.

As I have said extensively over the years, although solo travel by both genders may offer solace, contemplation and personal space, the reality is that the world is increasingly becoming perilous, which often leaves solo travelers vulnerable to violent acts with irreversible results.