Visitors were asked to contact senior officers of the tourism department whose contact numbers were displayed through the media, he said. Phukan said those who reached out to ATDC were facilitated and did not face harassment.
The tourism industry in Assam has been hit by the recent violent protests in the state against the new citizenship law, with many prospective visitors cancelling their bookings. However, the state government and stakeholders concerned are trying to allay the fears of the visitors and instil confidence in them in visiting the northeastern state. “Many tourists were stranded during the protests and the subsequent curfew imposed in some districts. But, we made sure that they do not face any difficulty during their stay.
“We escorted them to the nearest railway stations and airports,” Managing Director of Assam Tourism Development Corporation, Bhaskar Phukan told PTI. Visitors were asked to contact senior officers of the tourism department whose contact numbers were displayed through the media, he said. Phukan said those who reached out to ATDC were facilitated and did not face harassment.
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“People from across the country and the globe are calling us up, inquiring whether it is safe to travel to Assam. We have assured them that normalcy has returned though their night travel plans might be restricted due to prevailing night curfew,” Phukan said. President of Tour Operators Association of Assam (TOAA), Ranjit Das said the state has witnessed a large number of cancellations of bookings during the ongoing peak tourist season as many visitors are scared to visit Assam now.
“We (tour operators) are mooting to meet the leaders of the All Assam Students Union (AASU) who are spearheading the agitation against the Act and request them to say that it is safe to travel to Assam and that their protests are non-violent in nature,” Das said. Assam had witnessed many crises earlier but no tourists were ever harmed even during the worst phases of violence in the state, he asserted.
The tour operators will also write to the Union Ministry of Tourism urging them to assure people that it is safe to travel to Assam, Das said. “The state tourism department had in recent years taken several initiatives, particularly in branding Assam as a tourist destination and there has been a significant inflow of visitors but if that declines now, the situation will return to square one,” he said.
The TOAA president said the initiatives taken by the tourism department to ensure the safety of visitors during the stir have sent positive vibes to prospective travellers. Chairman of the Northeast chapter Association of Domestic Tour Operators of India (ADTOI) Arijit Purkayastha said transport and hospitality sectors of the industry have been affected, particularly due to suspension of internet services.
Several tourists were stranded in Kaziranga, Cherrapunjee and Majuli but it was made sure that they were escorted to hotels, airports and railway stations, he said. “There have been cancellations of bookings but we are hopeful that the scenario will improve as broadband internet services have been restored,” Purkayasta said.
Cruise services for tourists on River Brahmaputra has been also affected due to the stir. “Though we have resumed cruise services after curfew was lifted in Guwahati, very few people are availing it despite this month being the busiest as far as tourist footfall is concerned,” Sajida Doley, owner of a cruise service said.
She assured visitors not to be scared and vowed to take utmost care of them. The stakeholders in the industry said the losses incurred due to the violent protests can only be ascertained after the end of the tourist season.