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Tours after terror: Govt woos agents

The country is expected to post an almost flat growth in tourist arrivals this year, thanks to the global economic slowdown, and last month’s terror attacks in Mumbai, reports Samiran Saha.

business Updated: Dec 18, 2008 20:55 IST
Samiran Saha

The country is expected to post an almost flat growth in tourist arrivals this year, thanks to the global economic slowdown, and last month’s terror attacks in Mumbai. To prevent the tourism industry from slipping further, the government has asked tour operators to project India as a “safe destination.”

They have also been asked to sweeten tour packages within India.

As a part of "promote India campaign," tour operators have been asked to club hotel tariffs with airfares, and offer incentives to repeat visitors — those who visit India this year would be offered special packages on their next visit, including rural tourism, eco tourism, adventure tourism, wellness tourism among other packages.

“Global recession topped by terror attacks in Mumbai have all led to a slow down and that is reason why hotels across the country are offering cheaper room rates to create demand,” Ankur Bhatia, executive director of travel consultancy firm, Bird Group told Hindustan Times.

“This is first time the government is working hand-in-hand with the travel industry... I see a near 20 to 30 per cent drop in tourist arrivals,” said Raji Rai, president, Travel Agents’ Association of India. There have been 20 to 25 per cent cancellations in group bookings.

It is likely that growth in tourism would be in the vicinity of 2 to 3 per cent compared with 30 per cent growth that the country clocked in 2007 and double digit growth during the last five years.

Much of the poor growth is because of the rapidly slowing economies in the United States and Britain, which sent a major part of the 50-lakh tourists who visited India in 2007.

In the aftermath of terror attacks have led to cancellation of group bookings to destinations including Kerala, Goa and Port Blair that were the most favoured destinations for Christmas vacations.

Tourism contributes almost Rs 30,000 crores to the exchequer, but this season the pickings will shrink substantially.