In a shocking incident, a Swiss couple was beaten up brutally at Fatehpur Sikri by an irate group of men. According to reports, men wanted a picture with the woman, Marie Droz, and on being denied a selfie, beat the two up. The incident has gone on to show that tourism is still rather unsafe in India, despite the country’s popularity with foreign travellers. A number of countries, including the US, have issued directives for safety and security of travellers in India, giving them advice like ‘keep a low profile, vary your routes and times’ besides other warnings of terror attacks and sexual assault. We ask social thinkers why India is still unsafe as a tourist destination for foreign travellers, and what steps can be taken to make it a better place to visit.
‘Ministry needs to train people as official guides’
There is huge a gap in culture and people asking foreigners for selfies is insane. People should not do it. It shows lack of manners. I have faced harassment while travelling myself within India. This incident is very unfortunate. I guess the tourism ministry needs to train more people as official guides and they can also be trained in how to help the tourists with a safe journey. They can guide them not just on the tour but also help absorb any cultural shock. People who are travelling should also hire them and that will probably reduce a lot of hassle for them.
– Siddharth Gauri, Historian and documentary filmmaker
‘Such issues of abuse and sexual assault are reported everywhere’
I am originally from Switzerland too and the incident is shocking. However, to only say that India is an unsafe tourist destination for all foreign travellers, may not be right. Anything can happen in any part of the world, no matter where you are travelling to. Such issues of abuse and sexual assault are reported everywhere these days — idiots are everywhere. I do not know about the rules and regulations, that is up to the government. However, I never faced such situations when I came to Hyderabad. My wife had faced some issues when we were new here, but that’s about it.
– Joe Koster, Director/Trustee at The Hyderabad Western Music Foundation
‘Most important aspects of quality tourism is safety and security of travellers’
One of the most important aspects of quality tourism is safety and security of travellers. The track record of many states is pretty bad. There have been many incidents of attack against women tourists in Delhi and parts of Uttar Pradesh. The latest incident of assault against the Swiss tourists is indicative of lack of safety and security of people. Such episodes happen on a daily basis and violence against women is on rise. But only when it happens to tourists from Europe, it becomes news. This is also due to the attitude and statement of the UP chief minister against Taj Mahal and creating a crowd mindset against foreign tourists. India can learn from Thailand on how to ensure safety and security of tourists.
– John Samuel, Expert on international relations and public relations
‘Tourists should do more research about where they are going’
Travellers in their twenties come to India, wanting to know a different culture and they believe in the illusion of safety. But the longer you live here, you realise what can happen. Over the years, I have lived a way more conservative than I would have ever have. Once, someone knocked on my door. I opened thinking it was my friend but it wasn’t. It was somebody with a big knife; I screamed as if my life is over, that scared the guy away. You have to be constantly alert in India. You have to accept India is India and you have to change a little bit. People ask me for selfies and I say ‘two hundred rupees’ and they are shocked, and they walk away. I think tourists should do more research about where they are going.
– Aine Edwards, Expat
‘It is vulnerable to travel all around the world today’
Incidents like these are really unfortunate. As someone who travels abroad often, the first thing I do is to get myself acquainted with the destination, culture and how people live there. Similarly, for tourists, when they have chosen India as a travel destination, it is important that they read up about the country, get an idea of how life is here and what people are here. This is basic. At least this will help the tourist be aware of what to expect. One would think that safety is an issue just in India, but it is vulnerable to travel all around the world today. Tourists could be easily attacked — and such is the case every where in the world; be it Russia, London or Las Vegas. Travellers need to be alert, understand that there is enough help around.
– Fatima Agarkar, Educationist