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Sex attacks hit tourism sector

Country sees 25 percent drop as safety fears increase

A foreign couple visit Vrindavan, a Hindu site in Uttar Pradesh state A foreign couple visit Vrindavan, a Hindu site in Uttar Pradesh state
  • Ritu Sharma, New Delhi
  • India
  • April 4, 2013
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India has experienced a slump in the number of overseas tourists following recent media reports of gang rapes and sex attacks on foreign nationals, a study released this week has revealed.

The study conducted by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India recorded a 25 percent fall in tourism over the past three months.

Safety and security concerns are seen as a major factor, according to D.S. Rawat, the trade body's secretary-general.

The decline began with the gang rape of a 23-year-old medical student in New Delhi, which made international headlines.  Last month a 39-year Swiss national was gang raped in Madhya Pradesh, on her way to visit India's biggest tourist attraction, the Taj Mahal in Agra.

In another incident last month, a British tourist said she had to jump from her hotel room window in Agra to escape a sex attack from a hotel employee.

Many tour operators across India say they are witnessing booking cancellations, especially by women from countries such as the UK, USA, Canada and Australia.

The fear among tourists is real, according to one US national on a weeklong tour to India.

“I have read about these incidents and was initially apprehensive in coming to India,” said Margaret, who only gave her Christian name.

“Two of my friends cancelled their visits fearing lack of safety,” she told ucanews.com in New Delhi, adding that she is avoiding venturing out at night.

Rawat said the government should tighten security in tourist places.

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