JAIPUR – It’s a grim situation for travel agents in Rajasthan as tour operators are reporting unprecedented 30 to 40 per cent cancellations by tourists, across all cities in the state by way of hotel bookings and flights.
Chairman of the Rajasthan Chapter of Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI), Arun Choudhary says that even though it is the initial reaction to Tuesday’s serial terrorist strikes, and the first time ever, in the walled city of Jaipur, it did not bode well for the future growth of the tourism industry in Rajasthan.
However, on the other hand he is hopeful that all may not be lost. “The next 5-10 days are very crucial for us and after that I along with the other TAAI members (all travel agents) shall seek a meeting with the chief minister and the tourism minister of the state to take some initiative to save the tourist sector, if it’s actually on the verge of breaking down,” asserts Choudhary who himself owns a travel agency, Travel Care, in Jaipur. Ever since Tuesday he has been receiving enquiries from his customers in US, Germany and Turkey who want to know how safe it would be to travel to Rajasthan.
Choudhary is hopeful of a positive outcome because he feels that the state government is very aggressive in promoting the tourist industry in the state. Choudhary is also counting on the cooperation of fellow TAAI members in the different states of India to promote Jaipur and Rajasthan as a safe tourist destination.
May-June is normally an off season for tourists, as travellers, especially the foreigners do not like visiting Rajasthan due to the extreme hot climate. But over the last few years, domestic tourism has increased. Foreigners normally start flocking to the state from the first week of July. But the ongoing IPL cricket matches have ensured a good amount of domestic tourist travel to Jaipur and to the other parts of the state, Choudhary informed.
There are a large number of tourists travelling from Mumbai, Gujarat, Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. Meanwhile, people from Jaipur too have started cancelling tickets because they want to stay put in the city in case the situation worsens.
Meanwhile, IPL Jaipur team’s (owners of Rajasthan Royals) franchise, Emerging Media are ‘confident’ of seeing cricket fans flocking to watch their home team take on Bangalore’s Royal Challengers on Saturday at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium in Jaipur, according to company CEO Fraser Castellino.
He said that over the last couple of days his company was continuously reviewing security with the government and their own private security agencies. “When we have paid so much for the players, we won’t go ahead with the match without reviewing the security,” said Castellino.
As for the emotional state of the players after the blast, Castellino said, “They trust us.”
Emerging Media had won the IPL team franchise of Jaipur for $67 million, the lowest in the IPL auction of eight franchises by the Board of Control for Cricket in India.
Even though in the last 24 hours the tourism industry has taken a hit in Rajasthan, Castellino says, “I don’t think my audience comprises of tourists from other states in India. We get locals to watch our matches and they are the one’s who matter. Presently, I am not really concerned about the drop in tourist travel to Jaipur. Hopefully, in the future we will get people from other states travelling to watch the IPL matches in the state.”