Now in case you were wondering, people are not falling over themselves to visit India no more (if that was ever the case to begin with!). Apparently the recent very bad press regarding the numerous assaults on locals and foreigners alike is taking its toll. The report below gives more details.
India isn’t so incredible any more. Tourist inflows have dropped significantly this financial year as the rape tag seems to have got glued to the nation’s image. Worse, the endless questions on safety and security that prospective tourists are asking travel agents indicate the slip may soon become a slide.
The worrying growth in crime against women and its media coverage worldwide, especially the December 16 gang rape of last year, have now pushed the tourism business to the edge.
One major operator on the Japanese circuit says the dip in arrivals is between 25 and 30 per cent this year. A leading adventure tour operator says he faces a 10 per cent dip over the last financial year, and that he is flooded with queries from Germany and France about the state of safety for travelers, particularly women.
Travel agents fear the worse is in store as more adverse publicity will take its toll on the sector
“I got a call today from two travel groups booked with us for this summer from Germany and France. The operators there are sending us mails on the future law and order scenario. We have assessed a dip of about 8-10 per cent in business in 2012-13, particularly in the last quarter, and the number of calls we’re getting now is not a bright indication. As most of the adventure-centric vacations involve women travellers and the vacations are planned by women in the family, there is a genuine concern… the number of calls rose especially after the media reports about India’s crime situation,” says Tejveer Singh Anand of Holiday Moods and Adventures.
The worst-hit is the Buddhist circuit. Lajpat Rai, an operator on this circuit, says he has seen a dip by at least 30 per cent this year compared to the same months (April-May) last year. “For Japanese tourists, the Golden Week (April 27-May 6 this year) is a period when I handle about 350-400 travellers. This year, I have got only 250. The travel sector has been hit very hard by the recent unfortunate incidents,” says Lajpat Rai, who owns Lotus Tours.
Travel agents fear worse is in store. “More adverse publicity will take its toll on the national tourism sector,” says a senior tourism ministry official on condition of anonymity.
It’s happened before. “The ministry’s own figures show a negative growth of 2.2 per cent in 2008-09 following the Mumbai terror attacks… such repeated reports in media about safety of women and terror risks are bound to have an adverse effect,” says the official.
School children in Delhi protest the recent kidnapping and rape of a five-year-old girl
Ashwini Kakkar of Mumbaibased Mercury Travels, who deals with high-end foreign travellers, plays down the fears, but not completely. “It is difficult to assess the ripple effect of these queries and concerns following media reports immediately, but it is true that we’re getting calls from foreigners and tour operators from overseas. I got one call from a German tour operator’s office on the same issue,” Kakkar says.
Occupancy rates have dipped at hotels in the capital. Most are now offering attractive deals to woo foreigners and minimise the fear effect. K.B. Kachru, the CEO of Carlson Hospitality, endorses the fears of travel agents. “India’s image has definitely taken a beating. Foreigners are questioning travel agents more than the hoteliers about the situation here. However, the summer season has just begun, and it may be too early to talk about loss assessment. We are just bridging that response gap with more attractive room tariff options. We want more heads in beds to catch up with the lull in tourism market,” says Kachru.
The lean season – April 1 to September 30 – sees the hotel industry slashing tariffs by almost 25 per cent over peak season – October 1 to March 31 – rates. This April has seen hotels slash tariffs by up to 15 per cent over the usual cut.
Those charging in the range of Rs 10,000 and above before March 31 this year in the posh New Delhi area are now offering rooms for roughly half that. “Even a newly opened Kempiski Hotel in East Delhi, which had rooms available for Rs 7,000- Rs 8,000 earlier is now offering the same at `4,000, Crowne Plaza in Rohini is offering rooms at just under Rs 4,000. But they are still to get the desired occupancy,” says one travel agent who prefers not to be identified.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-2315446/Tourism-takes-hit-Numbers-visitors-India-drops-dramatically-rape-fears-fuel-anxiety.html#ixzz2RsgyWnKy
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