The nip is in the air. But the buzz in tourism industry is missing in the peak season thanks to demonetization.
Hospitality stakeholders said they have been witnessing cancellations in hotel bookings and receiving distress calls from tourists, mostly foreigners, about availability of cash in ATMs.
Sources in the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Odisha (HRAO), a private body of hoteliers, said their business has been affected by 75% since the Centre demonetized Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes.
“Though we have not assessed the exact volume of loss, we assume the business has been affected by 75% in hotels and 50% in bars and restaurants. Seeing media reports about long queues before ATMs and banks across the country, foreign tourists are deferring the travel plans,” HRAO’s secretary general Srinibas Subudhi told TOI.
Odisha has around 1,500 hotels, bulk of which exists in Puri and Bhubaneswar. Hoteliers expect maximum footfall of tourists during the winter.
Odisha Tourism, which witnessed drastic fall in the footfall of foreign tourists in 2015 despite massive Nabakalebara promotional activities, apprehends low arrival rate of overseas tourists this season.
“I was to receive a group of 10 Italian tourists on December 7. But the visitors have put their plans on hold. Though I convinced them that the situation is normal here, they are reluctant to visit India for the time being,” said secretary of Odisha Tour Operators Association Yugabrata Kar.
While 71,426 foreign tourists visited the state in 2014, the number fell to 66,971 in 2015.
The major tourist generating markets were the UK and the US, followed by Germany, France and the Netherlands, official sources said.
Small vendors on the Puri beach are the worst sufferers. Tourists are reluctant to spend much in this scenario.
“Small vendors, who sell tea, snacks and take tourists on horse or camel ride on the beach, do not know the use of plastic money,” said Jagannath Rao, a tea vendor.
Some hoteliers want the exchange ceiling to be relaxed for foreign tourists.
“We may accept bigger amounts on cards. But foreigners need cash to visit nearby markets and crafts village Raghurajpur to make different purchases. Credit and debit card system is not available everywhere. Even we face difficulty in exchanging foreign currency as we have insufficient cash,” said Srimant Dash, president of India Japan Friendship Centre, an outfit that works for promotion of tourism links between India and Japan.
Puri Hotel Association secretary Rajkishore Patra said the cash-strapped people have been cancelling wedding functions in seaside hotels.
Courtesy: The Times of India