Tourism takes a hit


The ongoing global meltdown and the recent attacks in Mumbai have brought the travel and hospitality industry down on its knees. Employees are having a horrid time with shrinking profits and everybody is just hoping for a miracle to happen for their safe future. Hardnews will run a series on how economic slowdown is hurting ordinary people

Akash Bisht Delhi

Union Minister for Tourism, Ambika Soni, recently said that during troubled times people turn to God and India has an abundance of spiritual destinations for those bogged down by money woes and global economic uncertainty. However, the picture doesn't look rosy on the ground as the travel industry in India is hitting a rock bottom. The global recession and the recent Mumbai terror attacks have shaken the trust of foreign visitors coming to India.

Monika, a team consultant with SITA World Tours in New Delhi, said, "Travel industry is very sensitive and especially since this whole recession period started our business have gone down considerably with more and more foreign tourists opting to abandon their travel plans for the time being." According to her, the period of September to March is the season time wherein most traveler visit India but this time the response is very lukewarm and most of the travel agencies are suffering huge looses. "Recession has been on for a while but the real spoiler has been the recent Mumbai terror attacks. We have had numerous cancellations after these attacks," said Monika.

Confirming her fears, Vikrant Rathi, sales manager with a reputed five star property in Bangalore said, "Bangalore is not a tourist hub, people usually converge here for business meets thus the flow has been normal but, especially, after the Mumbai fiasco more and more foreigners are cancelling their meetings in the garden city. This has affected the business of certain hotels including mine." He also stressed that places like Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Kerela, among others are the worst sufferers of the ongoing global meltdown.

Due to the ongoing recession and low business amongst various travel agencies there is a sense of uncertainty amongst the employees of these firms including hotels. If the business continues to be same then there soon might be a day where they can be asked to be either a part of the cost cutting procedure or can even be asked to leave. "Big agencies like ours are the worst sufferers while the small fishes can survive for longer as they have direct people to people contact. We are a wholesaler and they a retailer, hence, their chances of survival are more than ours as they have lesser employees compared to us," opines Monika.

A senior management employee of a prominent hotel in Delhi said, "We are already in the process of curtailing our expenses and soon if these trends continue more and more people will be shown the doors. We do not want to fire anyone but if things do not change soon then we will no-option but to take such actions." Such thoughts are repeatedly being told by people in travel and hospitality industry. "I look at the Sensex everyday and pray that the markets will soon revive and we will have a safe future but at present things don't look going our way. We have been told strictly to put a hold on hiring and if we sit in our offices with no work then we will soon be asked to go," stresses Ayush Sharma, an HR executive at a placement agency.

The ongoing global meltdown and the recent attacks in Mumbai have brought the travel and hospitality industry on its knees and everybody associated is just hoping for a miracle to happen for a safe future.