Rape of tourist at a resort in Poovar, near Thiruvananthapuram, threatens to dent Kerala's women-friendly image

The rape of a woman IT professional from Bangalore at a premium resort in Poovar, some 30 km from here, on November 28 has thrown up questions about the safety of women coming to Kerala for vacationing.

The incident happened as the industry was gearing up for another peak tourist season. Just weeks ago, travel guide Lonely Planet had listed Kerala among the world’s 10 best destinations for family holidays in 2014. The resort has not reported any cancellations after the incident. Yet, industry stakeholders wonder whether the State’s women-friendly image would suffer.

The 40-year-old woman, hailing from West Bengal, was in the resort with her colleagues as part of an official junket. Spread over 18 acres of land, the 78-room resort has CCTV coverage only in the main wing, and can be accessed only by boat.

“The resort was opened 12 years ago, and there has not been a single instance of misbehaviour towards women all these years. We have a good number of women employees and our security personnel carry out frequent patrolling as the area is vast and there are threats from the sand mafia,” a partner of the property said.

Four nearby resorts too can be accessed only by boat. Industry stakeholders admit that the incident has brought to the fore the need for more safety measures in resorts located in the midst of estates, in hill stations, and backwaters.

“Safety of tourists is of paramount importance. All those in the hospitality industry should take adequate precautions,” E.M. Najeeb, president, Confederation of Tourism Industry Kerala, said.

CCTVs should be installed and more security personnel deployed in all properties in the backdrop of the incident. The hospitality industry, he said, should undertake a security audit and the police should do a follow-up of the steps taken by them.

Association of Tourism Trade Organisation India (ATTOI) president Anish Kumar P.K. said what happened at the resort should be seen as an isolated incident. However, he conceded that safety and security of women tourists, especially those who stay in remote properties, should be ensured.