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UP incidents can upset flow of foreign tourists to Taj Mahal: ASSOCHAM to state govt
Incidents of rapes and law and order in Uttar Pradesh reverberating in the global media and even among the United Nations echelon will leave their adverse impact on the inbound tourism since near about half of the total foreign tourists come to India attracted by the Taj Mahal, located in UP, Amritsar's Golden Temple, Khajuraho (Madhya Pradesh) and Jaipur (Rajasthan), ASSOCHAM cautioned today.

Of the USD 18-19 billion foreign exchange earned through the Foreign Tourists Arrivals (FTAs), the Taj Mahal itself is responsible for USD 7- 8 billion, said Mr. D S Rawat, Secretary General ASSOCHM while releasing the paper.

However, the only factor which can lead to doing less of the damage is the fact that these incidents like the one at Badaun have happened in quite a lean season when the foreign tourist arrivals come quite to a trickle thanks to heat wave in most parts of India, particularly in the North.

“Still, about 4.5 lakh foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs) are recorded even in June. However, the North-bound FTAs are less in number…..In a way, the damage because of the adverse publicity resulting from these unfortunate incidents could be limited because of lean period,” the chamber said in a paper.

However, it cautioned that immediate confidence building measures must be taken without any loss of time , well before September-October when the FTAs start picking up, peaking in December and January. In all, the country earns a tidy USD 18-19 billion of foreign exchange through the FTAs, of whom 40-45 per cent have Taj Mahal on their main itinerary.

“Come to think of it, the Taj Mahal itself is responsible for foreign exchange earnings of about USD 7-8 billion. Since it is located in Uttar Pradesh and is very popular among the women tourists, the state government must take steps and send immediate signals across the world that women are safe in the state”, added Mr. Rawat.

April till September months, because of summer and humidity are lean season attracting monthly FTAs of about 4-4.5 lakh . However, the figure picks up from October rising from five lakh FTAs to sometimes eight lakh FTAs in December/January with bulk of them visiting the Golden triangle of Delhi-Agra- Rajasthan. Some of the south Indian beaches in Kerala or in Goa are also popular among the foreign tourists.

Hotels, restaurants, transport operators, airlines do brisk businesses in the busy FTA season. “In fact, the country should aim at doubling our FTAs in the next five years and take the foreign exchange earnings from them to at least USD 50 billion a year. But tourism, especially the inbound from overseas is highly sensitive to events and any unsavoury incident can upset the FTAs which can then change directions. They are like wind which blows in favourable direction”, added Mr. Rawat.

He said unfortunately the law and order issues have come to the fore at a time when the global tourism is on a rebound and could have offered a great opportunity to India to increase its FTAs.

According to the UN World Tourism Organisation, global forex generated by international tourism in 2013 reached US$ 1.4 trillion. Receipts earned by destinations from international visitors grew by 5% to reach US$ 1159 billion, while an additional US$ 218 billion was earned by international passenger transport.

Receipts in destinations worldwide from expenditure by international visitors on accommodation, food and drink, entertainment, shopping and other services and goods, reached an estimated US$ 1159 billion (euro 873 billion) in 2013. Growth exceeded the long-term trend, reaching 5% in real terms (taking into account exchange rate fluctuations and inflation). The growth rate in receipts matched the increase in international tourist arrivals, also up by 5%, reaching 1087 million in 2013, from 1035 million in 2012, as per UN WTO.

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