INDIA'S tourism business has taken a 25 per cent hit over the last three months, while the number of female foreign visitors is estimated to have dropped by 35 per cent due to the perception of deteriorating safety levels and ongoing global economic woes.
According to a poll by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) of 1,200 tour operators from different Indian cities, travel has fallen by as much as 25 per cent.
Travel advisories issued by the West have also impacted tourist numbers (TTG Asia e-Daily, March 22, 2013) following a spate of high-profile rape cases. Some 72 per cent of tour operators said cancellations by women tourists in the last three months came mostly from the UK, US, Canada and Australia.
While the Delhi NCR region has taken the brunt of the blow, tier two and tier three cities such as Goa, Agra and Jaipur have also not been spared as tourists turned to other Asian destinations such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines and Vietnam, according to ASSOCHAM’s press release.
ASSOCHAM secretary general, D S Rawat, said the rash of attacks on women “has raised concerns about the safety of female travellers to the country.” He also added inbound tourism could be affected in the long run, and urged stronger security in tourist areas, as well as a programme to educate locals on the importance of tourism and encourage respect for tourists.
However, ASSOCHAM’s findings are at odds with the tourism ministry’s monthly estimates, which reported February arrivals to be 1.6 per cent higher year-on-year. This is nevertheless a far cry from the 7.9 per cent growth posted in February last year.
About 6.6 million international tourists visited India last year, spending US$17.7 billion. The country’s tourism authority aims to grow foreign tourist arrivals by 12 per cent a year to double foreign exchange earnings by 2016.