By Talia Avakian
August 29, 2016
Christmas Break Destinations
What to See: What else but the Taj Mahal? Built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in 1643 as a mausoleum for his wife, it remains an unparalleled monument to romantic love. Cross this wonder of the world off your bucket list while you relax away from the hustle and bustle of nearby New Delhi. A tour guide is worth it: try booking with the hassle-free folks at Agra Day Tour.Where to Stay: At the Mughal-inspired Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra, the Taj Mahal is just a glance out the window.What to Eat: The Oberoi’s Esphahan serves up excellent Indian cuisine in an elegant setting and often with live traditional music. Peshawri, at ITC Mughal, is another gem.
| Credit: Peter Adams/Getty Images

India’s Union Minister of State for Culture and Tourism Mahesh Sharma is facing backlash after suggesting that female tourists arriving to the country avoid wearing skirts for their safety.

While speaking at a press conference regarding tourist security over the weekend, Sharma promoted a welcome kit that tourists receive when arriving in the country.

This welcome kit, Sharma said, would include a list of dos and don’ts, which would be “small things like, they should not venture out alone at night in small places, or wear skirts, and they should click the photo of the vehicle number plate whenever they travel and send it to friends.”

Introduced last year, the welcome kit was created in an effort to deal with the drop in numbers of female tourists to the country as cases of sexual assault continue to grow.

Upon further discussion of the kits, Sharma continued on to say, “For their own safety, women foreign tourists should not wear short dresses and skirts”, pointing to the fact that “Indian culture is different.”

The comments sparked controversy and backlash from critics who pointed to Sharma’s comments as putting the blame on women.

Sharma, who has been criticized for making controversial comments in the past, clarified his remarks this morning, stating that he was speaking specifically in regards to religious destinations within the country.

“I am a father of two daughters…I would never tell women what they should wear or not,” Sharma said regarding his earlier comments. “Such a ban is unimaginable, but it is not a crime to be cautious.”

Despite this, Sharma is still dealing with the backlash of his comments.

Talia Avakian is a digital reporter at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @TaliaAvak.