The dazzling Opening Ceremony of the Commonwealth Games has earned a lot of appreciation for the country but the negative publicity surrounding the Games before it began seems to have had its impact.
According to sources at the airport and the visa department of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), only 8,000 extra foreign tourists have come against the expected 1 lakh during the Games period.
Figures procured from immigration officials reveal that till September 27 this year 1.2 lakh foreign tourists had arrived in Delhi. In the past few years, the capital has been getting at least one lakh tourists every year.
Last year, 1,05,000 tourists had visited the city during the same period. This year saw a slight jump with 15,000 more tourists. But out of this only a little more than 7,500 are Games delegates and athletes.
The direct effect of this is seen in the empty booking registers of budget hotels, guesthouses and bed and breakfast facilities in the city.
Ankur Bhatia, executive director of Bird Group, a leading conglomerate in travel, said, "Approximately 8,000 foreign tourists have come to the city. One was expecting approximately one lakh extra tourists, as it happened in Melbourne. But the negative publicity and infrastructure problems have kept the tourists away. Even domestic tourists have not bothered to come."
"A number of hotel owners had cancelled their domestic tourist bookings hoping there would be a surge of international tourists," he added.
The Delhi government said it never claimed so many tourists would come.
"That estimate was done by the Union government and not us. As far as we are concerned, our focus is on helping/empowering the tourists through our website, helpline, souvenirs at Dilli Haat,” said Rina Ray, MD, Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation (DTTDC).
"We renovated our guesthouses, kept most of our rooms vacant to make room for foreign tourists and now we are left with nothing,” said Arun Gupta, general secretary of the Delhi Hotel Mahasangh.