Foreign tourists
[Representational Image] The Foreign Office of the United Kingdom (UK) has issued similar advice and tips to women tourists visiting India requesting them to "use caution" when they travel across the country.REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri

A survey conducted by Associated Chambers of Commerce (ASSOCHAM) revealed that the number of female tourists visiting India has dropped to 35 percent in the last three months, following the Delhi gang rape incident.

"The subsequent advisories issued by some western countries warned its citizens against travelling to the country. This has caused an adverse effect in the flow of foreign tourists apart from the economic turn down," said Manju Negi, joint director, ASSOCHAM.

The survey also revealed that the number of tourists, both men and women, dipped by 25 percent. The recent cases of the Delhi gang rape and the sexual assault of a Swiss woman in Madhya Pradesh are considered one of the main reasons behind the decline. These cases were highlighted in the international media.

But, the data given by the tourism ministry stated that there has been a rise in foreign tourists in India. The ministry claimed that in the months of January and February, the country witnessed a rise in foreign tourists.

The survey further revealed that at least 72 percent of tour operators faced cancellations from UK, US, Canada and Australia citizens.

"Many cancellations were done after the recent incidents of rapes which have tarnished the country's image," said Iqbal Mulla, president, Travel Agents Association of India.

Officials at ASSOCHAM said that the tour operators claimed to have received emails from foreign tourists asking them about safety of women in India. Those who continued with their plans of visiting the country took "extra precautions and avoided affected areas."

According to the tourism ministry data, about 6.6 million international tourists visited India last year, earning the country almost $18 billion. The ministry is focused on increasing the number of foreign tourists by 12 percent a year in order to double foreign exchange by 2016.

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