Thousands of travellers from around the globe rate Mumbai as one of the least tourist-friendly places, reveals survey

The Maharashtra government and various official agencies spend a lot of money in promoting Mumbai as a major tourist destination, but the fact is that thousands of travellers from around the globe find it one of the least tourist-friendly places.

While the average tourist confronts numerous challenges from the moment she steps out of the Mumbai international airport, most appear to take these in their stride and do not make an issue of it. However, a recent survey of more than 54,000 travellers by TripAdvisor, a leading travel site, revealed Mumbai was at the bottom of a ranking of more than three-dozen international cities.

In terms of ‘best overall experience’, the city was ranked at the bottom of the list, behind Moscow and Punta Cana of the Dominican Republic. Tokyo topped the list, followed by New York and Barcelona.

The travellers who were quizzed also placed Mumbai at the bottom of the list in the category ‘cleanest streets’, and ‘ease of getting around’. And it was third-last in terms of ‘best for attractions’ and ‘family-friendliness’.

Millions of Mumbai residents would undoubtedly endorse the findings of this survey, which should act as an eye-opener for the local authorities including those in-charge of the municipal corporation. The TripAdvisor City Survey — which also featured Dubai in the first place in terms of ‘best for shopping’ and ‘best for hotels’ — covered all the leading international cities. The results were compiled base on the response of over 54,000 reviewers, who have written reviews for the featured cities on the site.

Cities like Tokyo and New York were ranked in the first place on several accounts including ‘helpful locals’, ‘best taxi services’, ‘cleanest streets’, ‘best public transport’, and ‘best overall experience’ (all relating to Tokyo) and ‘best for restaurants’, and ‘best for nightlife’, (both relating to the Big Apple).

Mumbai’s 15 million-plus residents are used to seeing garbage-strewn roads, dug-up streets, pavements encroached by hawkers and beggars and rude cabbies. However, global tourists do not tolerate such civic deficiencies, especially in an era when they might as well travel to a better city (and perhaps even a cheaper alternative) in the region.

A visit to any of the landmarks in the city would endorse the findings of the TripAdvisor survey. Gateway of India, one of the major attractions in the city, is a nightmare for many tourists. Hundreds of hawkers and beggars pester tourists (especially foreigners), taxi drivers and owners of horse-driven carriages fleece them, while the so-called ‘tourist police’ turn a blind eye.

Taking a boat ride along Mumbai harbour from the Gateway of India can also be a risky proposition. Tourists have to walk carefully on the slippery steps leading to the boats, and often they have to hop on to different vessels to reach the one that will take them around for a spin. It is the same story at other landmarks including the Elephanta caves, the numerous beaches and promenades, and the splendid heritage buildings that dot the metropolis.

Photo Credit: Pleasure boats await trips to the island of Elephanta alongside the quay by the Gateway to India; the monument originally built to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Bombay (Mumbai). In March 1911. The majestic Taj building creates an imposing backdrop in the early morning sunlight. Getty Images