New Delhi: Much to the disappointment of the family members of the Delhi gangrape victim Nirbhaya, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley callously termed rapes as disastrous, saying such incidents have cost billions of dollars to the tourism industry.
While addressing a conference of state tourism ministers, Jaitley said that due to several reasons, including rapes and law and order situation, the tourism sector is not booming as much as it should.
"As a part of the red carpet glean for the tourists, our law and order - 'one small incident of rape in Delhi' advertised world-over is enough to cost us billions of dollars in terms of lower tourism," said Jaitley.
The Government press release removed the word 'small' from the transcribed speech.
Jaitley on Friday clarified that there was "no question" of trivializing any incident. "I regret that some word that I used was construed as insensitive, that was not my intention. I am very sensitive to these issues myself," he said.
He made an irresponsible statement, I'm deeply disappointed and hurt- Nirbhaya's mother on FM Arun Jaitley's remark— ANI (@ANI_news) August 22, 2014
Wat he said was wrong, he has encouraged ppl who commit such crimes with this statement- Nirbhaya's father on FM Arun Jaitley's remark— ANI (@ANI_news) August 22, 2014
He is seeing the tourism, an honest citizen lost her life, isn't that a loss to the nation?- Nirbhaya's father on FM Arun Jaitley's remark— ANI (@ANI_news) August 22, 2014
Very unfortunate & shocking, needs to be condemned at all levels- Nirmala Samant,NCW member on Arun Jaitley's remark pic.twitter.com/RAtQoUKrMu— ANI (@ANI_news) August 22, 2014
He also said that the country's domestic transport system - roads and railways - and international transport is not up to the mark and needs to be improved tremendously.
Jaitley focused on the massive potential India has in tourism sector and said with its diverse landscape from mountains, rivers, and forests to beaches, deserts, historical monuments, and metro cities the country should have been flooded with tourists.
"It (tourism) is one of the underachieved sectors in India. A country of India's size, which ordinarily should have everything going for it in terms of tourism, should have been crowded with the tourist arrivals," he said.
He also said that the country's government follows lower taxation policies because lower taxation means cheaper products, which results in more spending by people and ultimately higher revenue for the government.
He laid emphasis on lower taxes on hotels and international flights to attract more tourists and hailed Thailand for its tourism policies.
"When we are loading it with higher taxes, there is going to be lesser occupancy and effectively lesser collections. So, countries like Thailand are the examples which you learn to emulate; which provided relatively cheaper hotel accommodations to its tourists, the volumes grew and the tourism trafficked," said Jaitley.