Published on : Wednesday, January 15, 2014
JAIPUR: Rajasthan, that used to receive every third foreign tourist that came to India, is now looking inwards for tourism. The state is flooded with tourists, be that at monuments, for wildlife tourism or adventure tourism but coming across a foreign tourist is a rarity nowadays in the increasing number of domestic tourists.
Arrival of foreign tourists in the state has been declining steadily and compared to last year, tour operators and hoteliers confirmed that there has been a drop of 22-25 per cent.
The tour operators and hotels that were always so wary of Indian tourists after the global slowdown have in fact now started focusing on the domestic segment for survival.
Corroborating the facts is the Ministry of Tourism that pitches an annual increase in domestic tourist to an average 10%.
For instance, when the state reeled under extreme cold conditions on Sunday with mercury plummeting below normal, Nahargarh alone earned revenue of over Rs 36,000 from domestic tourists. In a similar situation, the Amber Palace with 6199 domestic tourists and barely 949 foreign visitors garnered revenue of Rs 4,55,325 besides Rs 45,770 parking fee on January 4 alone. Also, tourism statistics in the last quarter of 2013 at different monuments are a reflection of the changing trend.
“Number of foreign tourists has been thinning and even if they are here tour operators say they have no spending power. “We thought, gradually after the slow down, tourism would pick up, but year after year we are surviving on domestic tourists. Even with the overseas travellers, the bookings are ad hoc. Now we just get 15-20 days notice in case of any booking,” said Khalid Khan, executive director, Le Passage to India.
But looking beyond the obvious, a tour operator attributes this decline to India losing its image of a safe country and becoming a ‘rapist’s haven’. “There have been far too many incidents of rape that have been extensively covered by the media. When we sell a tour to a foreign agent we are not armed with information of a visual task force that could make them see India as a safe place. Why would anyone want to come to an unsafe country with exorbitantly charged hotels and inadequate tourism infrastructure,” said an official from an overseas travel company.