‘Tis might be the season to be jolly, but given the current political climate of our country, many haven’t been able to muster up happiness during the merriest time of the year. And now, the heavy toll it’s taking is beginning to show, especially in India’s tourism industry.
Even as we near the tipping point of this decade, the anger and uprising over the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act continues full power . So, it’s not shocking that as reports come up of police using facial recognition to keep track of protestors, communal violence causing the deaths of more than 20 people and some even being detained for drawing rangoli, many foreign nations now consider India an “unsafe travel destination”. According to officials, in the past two weeks, about 2,00,000 domestic and international tourists cancelled or postponed their trip to the Taj Mahal, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. There has been a 60 percent decline in footfalls this festive season, presumably since the Taj Mahal is in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, a state which has had the highest number of protest-related deaths, most of which were of Muslims or teenage students.
The United States, Britain, Russia, Israel, Singapore, Canada and Taiwan have issued travel advisories asking their citizens to either avoid going to India or be careful while visiting areas where protests are actively taking place. However, many tourists are also opting out of their India travel agendas because the internet remains blocked in many of its regions. "Blocking the internet has affected travel and tourism in Agra by about 50-60%," Sandeep Arora, president of the Agra Tourism Development Foundation that groups over 250 tour operators, hotels and guides told Reuters. Meanwhile, Jayanta Malla Baruah, the head of the Assam Tourism Development Corp, said that while the Northeastern state usually gets about 5,00,000 tourists during the December season, “the number is down by 90 percent if not more.”
Even Goa, one of India’s most popular vacation spots, is bearing the brunt, with tourist levels falling by 50 percent despite no reports of violent protests in the coastal state.
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