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'Atithi Devo Bahava' takes a hit: ASSOCHAM; 25% decline in foreign tourists inflow
Sunday, March 31, 2013

Foreign tourists inflow into India have registered a significant drop of 25% in the last three months that too in the busy tourists season after unfortunate rape incidents reported internally in India, according to quick random survey undertaken by ASSOCHAM Social Development Foundation (ASDF).

The heinous acts took place specially in Delhi and Madhya Pradesh in December last year impacted the tourism industry not only in NCR region but also in other major cities like Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune, Ahemdabad, Lucknow, Jaipur, Dehradun, Agra etc.  ASSOCHAM surveyed 1,200 tour operators from different cities and reveals that there is a fall in tourism business to the extent of 25%.  The reasons attributed are falling levels of safety & security and continuous global economic slowdown.
Releasing the ASSOCHAM survey on “Trends in Tourists inflow in the last three months”, the ASSOCHAM Secretary General, Mr. D S Rawat said, the industry has primarily been impacted due to deteriorating standards of safety and security. The in-bound foreign tourists have opted 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 avoid India.

The survey further highlights that from December 2012 onwards the inflows of women foreign tourists to the country have gone down by 35% and the overall tourism being affected by 25%. There has been adverse impact on tourism industry, reveals the ASSOCHAM. The reflection of Delhi gang rape is now visible and more pronounced in other metros and large townships, said Mr. Rawat.

Mr. Rawat pointed out that last year over six lakh tourists had visited various tourists destinations such as Agra, Jaipur, Udaipur, Kashmir valley, Goa, Mysore and Trivantapuram in the month of winter seasons. But this season, there is substantial fall of tourist arrival in India compared to last year. It has seriously impacted the inflow of foreign tourist to the “Maha Khumbh”.

“During last winter season, Goa, Jaipur, Agra, Kerala happened to be highly congested tourist spot 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 ASSOCHAM survey reveals that safety and security which has frightened the female tourists the most.

The survey found that tourism industry has suffered the most in Delhi-NCR followed by other tier-II & tier-III cities like Goa, Agra, Jaipur etc. The reflection of Delhi gang rape is now visible and more pronounced in other metros and large townships, said Mr. Rawat.
“India attempts to enhance its image in the eyes of foreign tourists, a brutal rape case in Delhi and recent incident of Swiss woman in Madhya Pradesh, or to the young British woman who had jump 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 Mr. Rawat

The government is making tourism as a lead industry because of its immense potential for higher revenue realization and a foreign exchange earner in view of the difficult current account deficit facing the country, said Mr. Rawat while releasing the survey.

Nearly 72% of the tour operators said that there has number of cancellation of booking taken place especially from women tourist in the last three months from the countries mainly from UK, USA, Canada, Australia etc according to tour operators.

Majority of the tour operators said, “some tourists have e-mailed in asking whether it would be safe to travel and some have changed their mind about traveling to India this year. Those who are determined to visit India are taking extra precautions and avoiding affected areas”, said the majority of tour operators.

However, 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 Tourism Ministry data, in 2012 about 6.6 million international tourist visited India and the country earned $17.74 billion. The ministry has set the goal of increasing foreign tourist arrivals by 12% a year so as to double foreign exchange earnings by 2016.

Mr. Rawat also said that the recent crimes against women could impact inbound 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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