Floods in Kerala, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand has taken the sheen out of tourism this Diwali, complain tour operators. Terrorism continues to haunt Jammu and Kashmir. Shorter Diwali vacation in schools has also forced people to shorten their travel plans.
“People are not ready to go to Kerala due to back-to-back floods. Coorg and other destinations in neighbouring Karnataka have also been affected. The rise in airlines fare for Kerala has also hit clients hard,” said Anuj Pathak, secretary of Travel Agents Association of Gujarat (TAG). He added that earlier seven out of 10 inquiries get converted into bookings two months before Diwali. However, this year only four are getting converted. “People are also rationalizing their expenses. Those who had a budget of Rs two lakh are restricting themselves with upto Rs one lakh,” added Pathak.
Lack of inquiries for traditional tourists hubs means that there will be a tremendous rush at relatively shorter destinations like Rajasthan and Goa. Tour operators are also promoting North Eastern states to lure tourists. “We are promoting Guwahati – Kaziranga – Shillong – Chirapunji circuit. Gangtok is also an emerging hub,” said Mahesh Dudakiya, a partner at Shakti Travels. Andaman Nicobar and Lakshadweep islands also have potential to attract tourists but the dates for ship program in Lakshadweep are not declared in advance, so we cannot draw people to this very unique journey, said Dudakiya.
On the other hand international destinations are a huge draw among the younger generation that has high amount of disposable income. “There is a growing demand for Dubai, Bangkok, Maldives and Singapore. There are concerns that Rupee may further depreciate, but for this specific section of tourists, it is not a matter of concern,” said Bhavin Shah, director of World Travels. Shakti Travels is also promoting Dubai and Japan as attractive destinations, but Japan is a bit costlier with per head, a seven-day package costing about Rs 1.5 lakh.
Shah said that the domestic segment will be hit hard because of the rise in the price of diesel that will increase the budget for tourists. Negation of major tourists hubs and rush towards a few destinations will mean that fares and hotel rents will rise, which tourists from middle class may not be able to afford.