Foreign tourist arrivals in Rajasthan may drop by as much as 30 per cent due to the swine flu scare, industry players say.
The tourism season in Rajasthan is mainly from October to March, and if enquiries the travel agents are receiving are an indication, the state is faced with a plunge in arrivals this year.
Players in the tourism industry blame the swine flu scare for this.
"We may not be able to meet last year's figure mainly on account of swine flu scare and recession in the western world," said Navendu Goswami, a city-based tour operator dealing mainly in inbound tours to Rajasthan.
"In fact, the figure would be 20-30 per cent lower than last year," Goswami told IANS.
Travel agent Nitisha Sharma said enquiries being received by her from her foreign clients concentrate on safety.
"The clients or prospective tourists in the wake of swine flu are sending emails asking if it is safe to travel now or whether they should postpone their vacation," Sharma said.
"I have already got over 15-20 per cent cancellations," she added.
Around 1.4 million foreign tourists visited the state last year and on an average, one out of four foreign tourists coming to India visit Rajasthan.
According to estimates, each foreign tourist spends about Rs 10,000 on an average per day, though no official figure is available to quantify the state's tourism market size.
Things have worsened for the hotel industry that was already passing through a difficult phase on account of the economic downturn.
"We were hoping that this tourist season would be very good for us. But with reports of swine flu, bookings may not see an upswing," said Surendra Singh, a hotelier.
According to him, the average occupancy of his hotels in 2009 till September has been around 50 per cent.
"Earlier, our occupancy used to be over 60 per cent. But now even achieving the 50 per cent mark would be a big challenge," Singh added.