The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has issued a travel advisory cautioning British citizens on travel to India following the alleged gang-rape of a 51-year-old Danish tourist in New Delhi earlier this week.
In an updated warning posted on its website, the FCO said that “women should use caution when travelling in India” with “recent sexual assaults against female visitors in tourist areas show that foreign women are at increased risk”.
British women, the FCO states, have been the victims of sexual assault in Goa, Delhi, Bangalore and Rajasthan.
The update to the existing advisory follows “serious sexual attacks involving Polish, German and Danish women travellers” in the first 16 days of 2014.
The Danish tourist was attacked in the popular tourist area of Paharganj in the Indian capital on Tuesday. According to police, the unnamed woman was attacked by up to six men in an alley in the area after she had asked for directions back to her hotel.
The ongoing violence against female tourists is certain to damage the country’s reputation. More than 800,000 Britons visit India every year, according to the FCO, with the vast majority of visitors face trouble-free trips.
However, there has been a number of violent and widely-reported attacks against foreign women in the country, including the gang rape of a Swiss tourist in Madhya Pradesh in August and an assualt on a Polish business executive near New Delhi earlier this month.
The violence has had an impact on the country’s tourism industry.
A survey conducted by the Association of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) in 2013 said the number of women foreign tourists to the country had declined by 35% in the last fiscal year and overall tourism was affected by 25%.
The number of foreign tourists coming to India grew a modest 4% between January and December 2013, significantly less than in the preceding two years.
India’s total foreign tourist arrivals in 2013 stood at 6.84 million. In comparison, China received 13.2 million whilst tiny Singapore welcomed 14 million.
The attacks on tourists have exacerbated the image of India where women feel unsafe despite the widespread anger, street demonstrations and fresh legislation that followed the gang-rape and murder of a young student on a bus in New Delhi in December 2012.
In a bid to quell the panic, the tourism ministry has introduced a ‘I respect women’ campaign that includes advertisements and promotions addressing traveller concerns.