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Flood aftermath: Pune-Kerala trip cancellations put businesses in a fix

Most of these trips were planned during the Ganesh and Diwali festival holidays.

pune Updated: Aug 29, 2018 16:43 IST
Shrinivas Deshpande
Shrinivas Deshpande
Hindustan Times, Pune
pune,maharashtra,kerala floods
The period between October and February is generally considered as the peak holiday season to visit Kerala. (REUTERS)

As Kerala battles through the process of rebuilding in flood-ravaged areas across the state, around 50 per cent of the scheduled trips from Pune to the God’s own country were cancelled with tourists raising safety concerns. Most of these trips were planned during the Ganesh and Diwali festival holidays.

The period between October and February is generally considered as the peak holiday season to visit Kerala. During this, the state witnesses a huge influx of domestic tourists as well as those from the Middle East countries, like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). However, following the devastating floods, most of the tourists have restrained themselves from travelling to Kerala, thus forcing tour operators in Pune to cancel several booking to Kerala.

Vishwas Kelkar, president of Travel Agents’ Association of Pune, said, “It is true tourists are not interested to visit Kerala because of the fear of communicable diseases post the floods. Most of them are either cancelling the tours to Kerala or are opting for other destinations. This has forced us to cancel around 50 per cent of our bookings.”

Earlier, owing to the Nipah virus outbreak in May, the Kerala tourism industry took a hit. “At that time too a large number of Kerala trips from Pune were cancelled,” recalled by Kelkar.

Makarand Kulkarni of Spas Tours said, “Cancellations have been a daily affair after news of the devastating floods in Kerala. I had to cancel 10 of the 15 scheduled trips to Kerala during the Diwali season. As of now, we do not have enough money to return the customers. Hence, we are offering other destination options.”

Meanwhile, Nilesh Gaikwad, owner of Captain Nilesh Holidays, another city-based tour operator, has cancelled all 10 trip bookings to Kerala owing to individual booking cancellations as it is very difficult to organise a tour with very few tourists.

Speaking about the sudden trend, Sajeev KR, assistant tourist information officer, said, “The flood situation in Kerala has affected our tourism industry badly. Large number of scheduled bookings have been cancelled. To avoid this during the Diwali season, the state government has conducted meeting with officials and plans to take necessary steps. Now, the situation is under control and there is no need to worry.”

Kerala had witnessed 10.94 per cent growth in tourists in 2017 as compared to the previous year which saw 1.91 million foreign travellers and 14.6 million domestic tourists visiting the state. Tourism contributes to over 10 per cent of the state’s GDP, informed Sajeev KR.

First Published: Aug 29, 2018 16:41 IST