New Delhi: Kerala is among the more popular destinations for foreign tourists in India and it has been hit hard by the lack of incoming traffic. “Kerala depends on inbound [foreign] tourism like Goa, but while Goa has managed to create an image for itself among domestic tourists, I don’t think Kerala has quite yet achieved that”, says Dhruv Shringi, Chief Executive of online travel company Yatra.com.
”Goa has an advantage in that if the inbound [foreign] market is low, it has domestic demand to supplement it. The same isn’t really happening in Kerala right now,” he adds.
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Rajasthan, which also relies on foreign tourists, has also suffered from the fall in the number of foreign tourists coming in. ”If a hotel in Delhi is going to cost you US$400 where as a hotel in Bangkok is going to cost you US$150, customers who are trying to maximize what they can get out of their spend they are going to prefer other destinations,” says Shringi.
Foreign tourist arrivals from January –November 2008 dropped to 8%, compared with 14.8% in the corresponding period last year, minister for tourism Ambika Soni told Parliament a few days ago.
In November alone, foreign tourists dropped 2.1% to just over 500,000. Foreign exchange earnings for the month fell by 12.5%.
The inflow of international tourists has been hit by the global economic downturn. In recent weeks, following the perception of a terror threat in the country, at least 15 per cent bookings have been cancelled, Shringi says. Domestic tourism, however, is less affected, he adds.
For Yatra.com Shringi projects a 60-70% growth in 2009, compared with last year’s 110 per cent. Although the numbers are strong, they are perhaps an indication of a significantly slower year to come.