Dec 2, 2008

India - 15% foreigners cancel trip: Tour operators

Neeraj Thakur & Kalpana Pathak

The trickle has begun and could turn into a flood. At least 15 per cent of overseas visitors have cancelled their tour plans to India following terrorist attacks on key locations in Mumbai, tour operators said. The attacks claimed nearly 200 lives and injured more than 300.

"Fifteen per cent of bookings have been cancelled in the past three days as foreign tourists do not want to take any risk," said Indian Association of Tour Operators’ President Vijay Thakur. "The situation might become worse in the coming months as many tourists, who have put their trips on hold, might also cancel,'' he added.

The tourism industry in India was already on the decline, with a drop in travel bookings, owing to an economic slowdown. Now, the terror attack in the financial capital of the country will make the situation worse, said Thakur.

One in five foreign tourists visits India between December and January, according to data supplied by the ministry of tourism. Five countries — the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Singapore and Australia — have issued advisory to their citizens, warning them against travelling to India.

"Cancellations have already begun. I am more worried about the next year because foreign tourists plan their trips well in advance,'' said Deep Kalra, CEO,

According to the data, 4.32 million foreign tourists arrived in India from January to October this year as against 3.95 million last year. The earnings from foreign tourists in January to October was $9.70 billion as against $8.29 billion in the corresponding period a year earlier.

Tourists, who were scheduled to land in Mumbai, now want to go to Delhi, according to a tour operator, who has branches in Delhi and Mumbai.

"The tourists do not want to visit Mumbai or places like Pune and Goa that are near Mumbai. We are also forced to reschedule their travelling plan or they will cancel their trip,'' the operator said, declining to be identified.

Overseas corporate travellers, however, are sticking to their travel plans. "Even though a few parties have cancelled their trip to India, we have received letters from some of our corporate clients, reconfirming their trip," said Ashwini kakkar, vice-chairman, Mercury Travels.

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