Tour operators and officials at the Union tourism ministry say tourist arrival in New Delhi is unlikely to be affected by the toxic air that has enveloped the city for the past seven days and are hopeful that the situation will improve soon.
“Inbound tourist traffic has not witnessed a dip on account of the continuing smog. The tourism ministry has not issued any advisory (asking tourists not to visit Delhi), as this is a temporary phenomenon that will get blown off after the rains that are expected,” a ministry official said.
Tour operators pointed out that other countries, including China, also face these challenges and said tourist traffic is unlikely to suffer even as the city continued to battle its worst smog in 17 years.
“Currently, sight-seeing in Delhi is a problem but tourists have been coming. We have not received any cancellations or even enquiries about the pollution levels in Delhi from foreign tourists,” Pranav Sarkar, president of the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO), said.
The Delhi government on Monday issued a health advisory asking people to avoid highly- polluted areas and cautioned those with asthma and lung ailments to stay indoors.
The announcement came on a day when the administration put into effect a number of measures, including the halting of construction and demolition activities, starting the process of deregistering 15-year-old diesel vehicles and imposing a ban on the use of firecrackers.
Locals have expressed their concern over the dangerous smog on Twitter, with some announcing plans of moving out their families from Delhi due to concerns over their health.
Some tour operators, however, warned that if the situation does not improve tourists may stop coming to Delhi that boasts of monuments like the Red Fort, Humayun’s Tomb and Qutub Minar.
“Since flight bookings by domestic or foreign tourists are finalised much in advance, no decline in tourist arrivals has been witnessed. But, if the current situation persists and the social and mainstream media retains its aggressive pitch, it is likely that tourism will suffer,” Subhash Goel of Stic Travels said.