Domestic tourism goes for a toss following Mumbai carnage

The happenings in Mumbai have certainly pushed the domestic tourism industry into a toss. Pictures of two major prominent hotels under seize in Mumbai have dented the country’s image for sure. Major western countries have issued travel advisories asking their nationals to avoid traveling to India. The English cricket team has cancelled the tour and returned back. With Christmas and New Year season just around the corner the hoteliers are keeping their fingers crossed. Himachal Pradesh has even more reasons to worry with tourism as its major economic activity.

Renu Baljees, a hotelier in Shimla said, “We will see less tourists traveling from Maharashtra during the New Year period. Though this is not going to affect people traveling from Delhi and other North Indian cities”. Another hotelier, Mr. Pathania echoed the sentiments saying Mumbai tourist arrivals are going to dip this season. Two foreign groups which were scheduled at his hotel have been cancelled following the attack in Mumbai. When probed about the govt’s move to install CC cameras at the reception to keep a track on the tourists movement into the hotel, he was against such move as this was something against the privacy of a tourist. Though he advocated the need of installing scanners to check guest luggage.

Hoteliers in Manali also sounded cautious about the Christmas/ New Year season. Buddhi Prakash Thakur, hotelier from Manali said, “Mumbai and Maharashtra accounts for 25-30% tourists arrivals during this period as Manali is a preferred honeymoon destination. The current situation in the country will make the people think twice before traveling. Incidents of terror activities and other agitations have hit Manali hotel industry hard this year” he said. First during summers due to Gujjar agitation the bookings got cancelled. Then the serial blasts in Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Jaipur and Delhi made the conditions un-favorable for the travelling public and now the Mumbai attack have killed the spirit of tourism in the country he added. He was all in favor of installing CC cameras and luggage scanners in the hotels as tourists must realize that this is for their safety only.

Dalhousie hoteliers too seemed worried about the coming season getting washed out. Ashish Chaddha, a prominent hotelier in Dalhousie seemed worried about the hotel industry getting hit by acts of terrorism in the country. “Vacations are going to be the last things in the minds of people till the time they do not feel secure at home and will prefer to stay indoors. Dalhousie is a preferred destinations for Maharashtrians during this time of the year and with the happenings in Mumbai, the hoteliers will be hit hard as majority of the hotels cater to group tour operators from Western India” he said.

Indicators for the over all tourism sector seems gloomy. The current economic meltdown have witnessed reduction in leisure and business travel. The ongoing commission war between agents and airlines and now the terror attack on Mumbai are all heavy blows to the travel and tourism industry. Probably, a fall out of these attacks would ensure that safety and security would become of paramount importance in India, like it happened in the US after 9/11. That means no more drunken revelry on the Mall on 31st December night. The fallout will be evident in the next two months.

Cross posted on Himvani

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