The Centre’s demonetisation of high-value currency has come as a blow for Rajasthan’s tourism industry as it has coincided with the peak tourist season in the state.
Industry stakeholders, who are bracing for poor business this time, say hotels, restaurants, taxi operators and vendors have all taken a hit following the move to scrap 1,000 and 500 rupee notes.
The flow of tourists coming under organised packages and groups, however, has not been affected, but many of those who do not plan their stay in advance have cancelled their trips.
Those touring the state, especially foreigners, also complain of difficulties in getting their currency exchanged.
While hotel room bookings have seen some cancellations over the last few days, the number of individual travellers have declined by 30 to 40 per cent.
“A 30 to 40 per cent decline in the flow of visitors has been recorded in the last few days. A large number of casual travellers, mainly from Delhi and Gurgaon, come to Jaipur over the weekend but this time the number has been low,” Amit Kothari, Operations Manager, Comfort Inn Safari, said.
He said that besides tourists, people who come from different states for business purposes have also postponed their visits.
“The currency crisis has hit the tourism season hard. The number of travellers in organised trips has not been affected much because their hotels and taxis are booked in advance.
However, they are short of valid notes to pay for tips and shopping of local products, besides day-to-day needs,” a tour operator said.
“Foreigners are also facing a crisis of valid notes and they need separate counters for currency exchange. They have limited cash,” he said, adding that the number of casual travellers has been low this time.
“The decision of demonetisation has directly and indirectly hit the tourism industry. Occupancy of hotel rooms have come down and the impact is visible on taxi operators, small vendors and others,” Sameer Gupta, Front Office Manager of Hotel Om Tower said. An American tourist visiting Jaisalmer, said that they were facing difficulties in getting currency exchanged. “Changing money has been very difficult for us but we feel very sorry for the long lines of people we see outside the banks. It was especially sad in the small towns we drove through.”
The peak tourist season in the desert state begins in October and continues till March, during which lakhs of domestic and foreign tourists visit places in Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and Udaipur among others. Former Rajasthan chief minister, Ashok Gehlot said the government must make special arrangement for tourists visiting the state.
“The demonetisation has affected the tourism sector the most, and foreigners are either coming in small numbers or cancelling their visit. There should be several access points available to tourists across the state where they can exchange money,” Gehlot said.
He said that for the sake of global image of the popular tourist destination, the government must take steps to help tourists cope with the tight financial measures.