MANALI: Following widely reported attacks on women in India, including gang rape with an American tourist in Manali, a survey by New Delhi based trade body had said that Indian travel agencies are reporting 25% decline in foreign tourists’ arrival. While, figures provided by the government reveals that tourism from abroad is on the rise.
The trade body has said that first three months of the year saw a decline in tourists’ arrival as compare to the same period in 2012. The report also said that booking from women (from abroad) has saw as low as 35% decline this year.
Contrary to the report, government figures show that despite gangrape and death of a 23-year-old Indian student, foreign tourist arrival increased from 6.81 in January 2012 to 6.99 in January 2013. Ministry of Tourism
said the total number of tourists from January to April rose by 2% this year.Gang rape of Swiss woman in March didn’t even affect the tourist arrival in India as number of tourists rose from 6.23 lakh in 2012 to 6.40 in 2013.
Shailesh Kumar, an official from Ministry of Tourism, said, “The incidents of women assault are shameful and worrying the country, but the reports that tourists are shunning India are baseless. Yes, tourist safety is matter of concern but these cases of assault have not driven away the tourists.”When we talked to some foreign tourists, we got a mix response from them. “It’s disgusting. Women travellers are not safe here. Police security should be tightened up even during nighttime,” a woman tourist from UK, Anneli, said, who is staying in Manali since Sunday. She was reacting on the incidence of gang rape with an American tourist in Manali.In hill stations of India
, it’s the beginning of foreign tourists’ season and hundreds of foreigners are already camping here. Most of the tourists are here for trekking, biking and jeep safari
. The gangrape has sent shock waves among them, especially in women who are travelling alone.
Majority of tourists travelling Kullu are from UK, Israel, France, Italy and USA. The incident of rape is the issue that is being discussed by all tourists here. While most of them are demanding hard punishment to the culprits, there were few of them who believe the victim, who sought lift from a truck in midnight, should have been cautious about her safety. “How an alone single woman can ask for a hitch-hike at 3am from a truck in a strange country. Either she was supposed to be sleeping in her room or accompanied by her friends at that time,” another tourist from Spain, Patricia, said.