The tourism sector in Assam has been severely hit by violent protests against the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the loss is an estimated at Rs 1,000 crore, a top official said on Tuesday. The sector was badly impacted in December and will also be in January, two of the peak months for tourist inflow, Assam Tourism Development Corporation (ATDC) chairman Jayanta Malla Baruah said.
The peak tourist season in Assam is from December to March and accounts for 48 per cent of the sector’s contribution for the entire year, he said. “Due to the violent protests during December, we suffered badly. We estimate that Rs 500 crore will be the loss to the sector for December and January each,” he told a press conference.
The hotel industry alone suffered a loss of Rs 60 crore in 15 days since December 11, when violence erupted across Assam against the CAA. Along with domestic tourists, the flow from abroad also took a hit after a number of countries issued travel advisories due to the ongoing protests, Baruah said.
The earnings of the state from the tourism sector is Rs 2,000-2,500 crore per annum. “Because of the impact on the peak season, we expect 30 per cent fall in tourist footfall in 2019-20. We hope to slightly recover from this situation in February,” he added.
There had been adverse travel advisories by developed countries like the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, Singapore, UAE and Saudi Arabia and it usually takes three to four years to fully recover, he said.
“Peaceful democratic agitations do not affect much, but violence impacts very hard. This year we had expected around 65 lakh domestic and 50,000 foreign tourists to Assam. But already 80 per cent of the bookings for December and January are cancelled,” the ATDC chairman said.
The state had seen an inflow of 60,27,002 domestic and 41,209 foreign tourists during 2018-19, he said. Baruah said that around 50,000 people are directly employed in the tourism sector, while another one lakh are indirectly dependant on it.
On the steps being taken by the government to recover from the losses, Baruah said ATDC has tied up with online giant Google to promote Assam Tourism on its various platforms.
“From January, we plan to hold four roadshows in Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Goa for domestic tourists. We will contact the embassies of all the countries that issued travel advisories and urge them to lift it. “If necessary, we will organise FAM (familiarisation) trips for them,” he added.