US, British Moves Give Breather To Tourism

New Delhi,July 24: | Updated: Jul 25 2002, 05:30am hrs
The domestic travel industry is breathing slightly easier with the withdrawal of travel advisories by the US and Britain. Although, the move would help restore some lost business, tour operators say a lot of harm has already been done and the industry would continue to feel the pinch for at least another six months.

Speaking to FE, Pawan Khanna, managing director, Rainbow Travels, said the industry had lost almost 70 per cent of the tourist traffic from Europe which visits India in the month of July and August. While the entire month of July witnessed practically no inflow of foreign tourists, Mr Khanna is hopeful that with the withdrawal of advisories by the UK, France and Germany, some business might take place in August.

Tourist inflow from the US, however, would continue to be low even in the winter season. US tourists booked 4-6 months in advance and the US travel advisory had ensured that the winter tourist season remains lean in India, Mr Khanna said. Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) vice president Muralidhar argued that the withdrawal of travel advisory by the US for a period of four months (after which it is to be reviewed) would discourage US tourists from visiting India. “Why would US citizens make bookings for the winter season if they are not sure whether its government would re-impose the advisory”

He said the tourism industry in India had suffered huge losses in the last few months and this would continue till there was a de-escalation of forces at the Indo-Pak border.

Industry associations including Assocham, had been requesting the US government to lift the travel advisories since mid-June. While the US government has lifted the travel advisory has been lifted now, it has advised its citizens not to visit a number of areas near the border including the reasonably safe areas of Rajasthan and Ladakh.

Assocham expert committee on tourism and civil aviation chairman Subhash Goyal said that he had written a letter to the US ambassador requesting that US should not ask its citizens to stay away from Ladakh and Rajasthan. He pointed out that Rajasthan was one of the safest areas and its border was among the quietest.