Natural calamities hit tourism sector

Visakhapatnam, now placed prominently in the tourism map of visitors from States such as West Bengal and Odisha, has two particular seasons when the footfalls grow phenomenally. One is during the Dasara or Durga puja period and the other in December, both before and after Christmas. This is the time tour operators, small-time restaurant and guest-house owners and tourist lodges look forward for doing some good business. But this year, both the seasons were upset by the two severe cyclonic storms that hit the coastal districts. On October 11 and 12, just before the Dasara season, the coastal districts were battered by Titli and on Monday, by Phethai. Cancellation of a number of trains had a very bad effect on the tourists and the industry. On one side the tourists were not able to come form various places to Visakhapatnam and on the other side those who were in the city were stranded, said Sunit Kumar Panja, who runs a restaurant and a tourist hotel-cum-lodge. As per an official of the Tourism department, the season witnesses an inflow of about 10,000 tourists per day from West Bengal alone. And these calamities have a spiralling negative impact on the industry for at least 10 to 12 days. “In the tourism industry, the recovery time is high and it is not just one segment such as lodging that is effected. It has its effect on a number of other sectors such as tours and travels, restaurants and ticket sale at tourist spots and temples. The accumulated loss for four days during Titli was estimated to be more than Rs. 1 crore,” said the official. According to Mr. Panja, at least 700 bookings were lost for the week for him alone in the two cyclones. Cancellation blues Moreover, cancellation of flights and trains give the tourists a harrowing time particularly after they reach the destination. “We do not get reservation for the next few days and have to travel in unreserved coaches or hop trains to reach our homes. Either way it is a bad experience,” said Asutosh Goswami, a tourist. Another irritant is the tourists would be confined to the lodges as taxi and local transport go off the road. “We miss out on sight seeing and even getting food becomes a difficult task. The online delivery system too does not function,” said Mr. Asutosh.

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