New Delhi – Until two months ago, India’s tourism ministry was confident that 100,000 foreign tourists would visit the national capital during the Oct 3-14 Commonwealth Games.
IANS reports that now officials concede, albeit in hushed tones, that the number will be far, far less.
While some officials say most will be domestic tourists, others say dengue and swine flu cases as well as negative media about the Games are keeping foreign visitors away.
‘We are still expecting around 100,000 visitors in the capital, but the majority of them would be domestic tourists,’ a highly placed source at the tourism ministry said.
According to IANS, until June this year, 2.63 million foreigners have visited the country. In 2008, 5.28 million tourists came to India, as compared to 5.11 million in 2009.
The city’s tour operators have slammed the tall claims of the tourism ministry.
The Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI), a premier travel and tourism association in the country, has gone to the extent of saying that only 10,000 tourists would turn up.
‘We, as travel agents, have lost a lot of potential business owing to delays by the authorities in preparing the venues and meeting other deadlines. We are very disappointed,’ Rajji Rai, president of TAAI, said.
In fact, the travel industry is not at all enthused about the Games drawing tourists. So much so that they have not even made special packages to promote the event. Most have the regular Delhi-Agra-Jaipur circuit to offer.
‘October is the time when tourists generally visit the country. We are hoping that they will come. But not necessarily because of the Games,’ said another tour operator.