Travel advisory for foreign tourists a worry for Eastern India tourism
Siliguri – Unfavorable travel advice issued by many western countries following sexual harassment to tourists in India has come as a major worry for the travel industry operatives. Especially in Eastern India, where the tourism arena is highly dependent on many other factors involving premium class foreign tourists.
” Travelers should be aware that there have been reported cases of sexual assault, including rape, of U.S. citizens traveling throughout India. US citizens, particularly women, are cautioned not to travel alone in India ,” states the latest US Department of State travel advice.
Through its Foreign and Commonwealth Office, UK has also issued caution saying, “Women should use caution when travelling in India. Reported cases of sexual assault against women and young girls are increasing.” “Women travelers should exercise caution when travelling in India even if they are travelling in a group,” it adds.
In addition to these, there are several other retardant factors. D ecision of European Union (EU) to ban all airlines from Nepal from flying into the 28-nation bloc or caution against travelling in the North East region of the country are few of them. ” Incidents of violence by ethnic insurgent groups, including bombings of buses, trains, rail lines, and markets, occur with some frequency in the northeast,” says US Department of States.
“These developments are alarming,” said Mr T. Roy, Secretary of Eastern Himalayan Tour and Travel Operators Association (EHTTOA). “Any unfavorable travel advice always significantly pulls down FTA (foreign tourist arrival),” West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation’s Honorary Director Mr S Dev said earlier. “Officially Government accepts it or not, these are bound to significantly lower our FTA in newer future slots,” said West Bengal Tourism Department senior officials.
Eastern Himalayan region in India including Darjeeling , Sikkim or NE region receive around 2 lakh tourists per annum including near 25,000 foreign tourists. The whole group generates annual business volume of over Rs 400 crore per year. Despite being low in head count, the premium class foreign tourist section yields lion’s share of rupee value business volume.
But, “At least 40% of the travelers arriving any place in any eastern Himalayan circles like Nepal, Bhutan, Darjeeling Sikkim of NE India prefer combining at least two circles. Naturally, any downward trend for any place is bound to impact the other regions too,” said veteran Tourism adviser Mr R Basu.