3 Apr 2013

Women tourists shun India

6:09 am on 3 April 2013

The number of foreign women tourists visiting India has dropped by 35% in the past three months following a spate of sex attacks that have made global headlines, a survey has found.

More than two-thirds of tour operators reported cancellations in the past three months - usually a busy tourist season - especially by female visitors from countries such as Australia, Canada and the United States.

The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) says overall tourist arrivals are down 25% year-on-year, with holidaymakers opting instead to visit other Asian countries such as Malaysia and Thailand.

The fatal gang-rape of a 23-year-old Indian student on a bus in New Delhi by six men in December sparked outrage over the country's treatment of women, and since then there have been other widely reported attacks, AFP reports.

A Swiss cyclist was gang-raped in Madhya Pradesh last month, while a South Korean tourist was allegedly drugged and raped in the same state in January by the son of the owner of a hotel where she was staying.

ASSOCHAM surveyed 1200 tour operators from different cities. Secretary general D.S. Rawat said deteriorating standards of safety and security were the main reasons for the drop in tourists, although the global economic slowdown was also a factor.

The survey comes as a blow to government attempts to boost the tourism industry in a period of lagging economic growth.