Post-Bali, Hotel Sector Hopes For Rerouted Traffic

Mumbai, New Delhi, October 17: | Updated: Oct 18 2002, 05:30am hrs
The Indian hotel industry is closely monitoring the impact of terror attacks on Bali, to gauge the possibility of re-routed holiday traffic to India.

The South-east Asian tourist haven may not seem an attractive destination to tourists for the time being, but nearby India maybe the indirect beneficiary to European and Australian traffic looking for a close and safer option. However, India will have to compete with already popular destinations such as Malaysia and Thailand for Balis piece of tourist cake.

Indonesian, Malaysian and Thai officials, however, are, according to international media reports, describing the attack as their September 11 and expect tourist inflows to Asia to slide.

October 15 to February 15 is the winter season for the Indian tourism industry, and this is when international tourist inflows increase. Because of the current situation in Bali, Indonesia, we may see an increased inflow this year. But, it is dependent on Indias domestic situation and that with Pakistan, said Federation of Hotels and Restaurants Association of India secretary general SM Korde.

The situation may not bring a dramatic rise or fall in tourist inflows to the country, but it has warranted serious discussions within leading hotel chains in the country.

It would be pure speculation to state the impact of Bali on the countrys tourism and hotel industry at this time, assuming people are willing to travel but we are meeting to discuss any fallout of the same, said an executive of a leading hotel chain in India.

According to an official of an international travel agency, such attacks usually herald a diversion of traffic to nearby destinations, on par with prices of the affected destination. There is usually a temporary lull in traffic, but tourists usually find other destinations that offer similar experiences at approximately the same price points, the official said.

Bali is the cheap holiday destination for mainly Australians. I would not comment on any positive or negative impact of the attacks there on Indian tourist inflows but, in a situation like this, tourists who travel will travel by choice. Travel agents will offer them various alternatives, and depending on availability, connectivity and price these choices will be made, said Le Royal Meridien (Mumbai) general manager and regional co-ordinator, West Asia, Julien Groom.

Ideally the package holiday will work very well for those re-routing from Bali as they are competitively priced.

But individual holidays is where India may lose out because we are not as competitive in that market. Destinations on offer will probably be Goa and Kerala. Goa is already popular with European travellers, Mr Groom added.

According to an official of an international chain of hotels, the fallout of Bali could result in any of three scenarios: European and Australian travellers may panic and refuse to travel to Asia as a whole; traffic could get diverted to nearby destinations like Malaysia and Thailand, which are also as popular as Bali; or travellers could decide to re-route to India, Sri Lanka, Maldives or Mauritius.

However, some travel industry professionals feel very strongly about Indias inability to attract diverted Bali traffic. The Bali event is not likely to have any major impact on the Indian inbound traffic. People may stop going to Bali, but it is unlikely that they will prefer India over Bali. Instead, the out-bound traffic from India is on the rise, said Select Holiday Resorts managing director Arjun Sharma.

Said Uttar Pradesh Tourism chief liaison officer Abhilash Sharma, Inbound traffic continues to decline after 9/11 and the Bali event is likely to deteriorate the situation further. We do not gain from the Bali event, instead we should focus on the domestic traffic.