2019 is fast drawing to a close. But can we ever look forward, foraying toward the new year without wondering about what held us back as a nation? Did we lag in certain areas that can be looked after with a sense of improvement? Were there any issues and concerns in 2019 that perhaps prevented us from looking at the future with the quintessential enthusiasm we’re so accustomed to? Depending on who you are- whether an irrational optimist or a realist, the answers may vary. But what can be denied is that the sense of peace prevailing in the nation seems to have been disturbed, of late. One is compelled to think in the manner because had it all been smooth sailing, and throughout the course of the twelve months, then probably media reports, particularly when speaking about foreign nationals, wouldn’t have pointed to a reality that prompts us to question- are foreign tourists avoiding India?
So the question- are foreign tourists avoiding India points to a bit of a conflicting reality that tells us something about the nation that doesn’t seem right. Perhaps it may not be incorrect to submit that India’s ethos of extending warmth and hospitality to people, regardless of their ethnic and religious backgrounds, is finding itself being tested at a time where media is suggesting the following: are foreign tourists avoiding India?
At this very moment, the clamor surrounding the widespread protests in India, stemming from deep concerns regarding the legitimacy and implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Bill has made things sour in the country. Right when the holiday season is well upon us, one is having to plan a holiday in various parts of the country not before looking into the relative ease and comfort of traveling within. For instance, there’s trouble in the North-east and in different parts of Uttar Pradesh. Kashmir has been, in the wake of the internet shutdown, in a constant state of turmoil.
A collection of all these issues that have caused widespread discontent between the protestors and the police, widely aggressive as seen in the case of the CAA, has perhaps compelled the foreign visitors to ditch India where it comes to making year-ending plans. Else, why would the media highlight the current concern: are foreign tourists avoiding India?
Moreover, it’s not the uncertainty springing from the vehement protests alone (that were held across various parts of the country) that have stalled peace in the democratic nation. The rising incidents of rapes, and where 2019 stands, then incidents in Unnao, Telangana and elsewhere are a massive deterrent toward foreign tourists visiting India.
The Economic Times, therefore, elaborated on the troubles on the ground in a country where all’s not right at this time:
Tour operators catering to overseas tourists from countries such as the US and UK said their clients were increasingly enquiring about safety and security in the country in the wake of these developments.
“The numbers in this season will be definitely impacted. Those who have already booked and paid for December are coming but those who were considering have changed their mind,” said R Parthiban, a director of Delhi-based Swagatam Tours that caters to travelers from Italy, France, and North America.”
In fact, regarding the seriousness in the way the business of tour operators could receive a hit, the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) said it has written to the ministries of tourism and civil aviation to postpone a move to phase out airport passes for tour operators, which it feels would be inconvenient for tourists.
“The disturbances in India against the Citizenship Amendment Act have been in pockets but travel advisories from countries like the US, UK, Canada, and Russia have created a negative perception about the entire country which may affect inbound tourism numbers,” he added.