Sunday, November 30, 2008

Tourism 2020!

Repeated rapes, abuse, molestation is degrading India's image

Consider this: in 1998, Diana Clare Routley from New Zealand gets raped and murdered by a fake guide. In 2004, tourist Dawn Emilie Griggs is raped and murdered near Indira Gandhi International airport.. In May 2005, another German tourist is raped by the son of a police officer in Alwar, Rajasthan, and near Fort Koch,i a minor Swedish tourist was badly and severely molested. These incidents happened just a few months after a German tourist was raped by an autorikshaw driver in Jodhpur. In March 2006 a teacher in Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan, molested another German woman. In the same year, two Australian tourists left Jaipur for home, after being molested, without filing any case!! September 19, 2007, two Japanese girls were gang raped in the city. Not even a month passed when acid was thrown on a Russian girl. But of all the above incidences, which actually distorted India's image, most horrifying was the tragic rape and murder of a British girl Scarlett Keeling in Goa. Just after this Goa scandal, a 35-year-old foreigner was molested, in Pushkar, Rajasthan, a British journalist was raped by the owner of a guesthouse in Udaipur and an American woman was molested at a temple in Pushkar.

The dream destination of tourism that is South India also saw similar incidences. Two teenage girls from Canada were sexually assaulted at a hotel in Kerala. Not only these, Japanese women were gang-raped in Agra, a South Korean tourist was raped near Manali, a Fijian woman, Swiss diplomat, two Canadian also reported similar experiences. And is counting…

Globally, tourism is a huge money spinner. And there are nations and regions which survive solely on tourism income. And in fact the whole Incredible India campaign was designed to render India's dream destination for all those backpackers who wanted a break from their fast world and accomplish nirvana. However, this dream destination of attaining nirvana has gradually turned into a place of nightmare for many. After all these repeated dreadful incidences countries like UK, US, Canada and Australia have issued warnings to its citizens about visiting India and warned that in every corner in India there is a supposed thief, rapist and murderer. In the case of India, these incidences are far more treacherous, as these have not only tainted the image but has also hugely threatened future tourism revenues. Consider this: currently, India's witnesses 2.4 million international tourists that is a mere 0.4 per cent of the total world tourism. CII estimates that India could have 40 million tourist arrivals by end of 2020, constituting four per cent of the world travel. Studies indicate that tourism alone can generate employment to 50 million people against present 20 million and tourism economy will be worth somewhere around Rs.10 lakh crore or seven per cent of the GDP. And mind you, this does not include the income generated by the various small enterprises associated with tourism.

In the given scenario, every mishap that occurs is not just about one individual tourists case, but a loss of hundreds of dollars of future revenues. The least that can be done is prompt support in terms of delivering justice, which would not only reassure future tourists, but also create the right precedence for future offenders. Remember all the above projected numbers only get realistic when situation are stable. Else like always, it will be again a case of a missed opportunities and global tourist would remain bereft of the Taj and the Raj!!


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