BENGALURU: Post demonetisation, the tourism sector has been hit hard, and this despite November and December being the peak tourist season in the state. The tourism sector has witnessed a decrease in the number of tourists in the state and cancellation of hotel bookings.
At least 2,484 rooms were booked in hotels run by Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC) between November 10 and November 27 last year. This year, however, during the same period, only 1,735 rooms were booked. Revenue from hotel bookings have gone down from `46.23 lakh last year to `34.61 lakh this year, a decrease of nearly 25 per cent. The Golden Chariot, a luxury tourist train, too is faring poorly. The train which runs through Karnataka, Goa, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, is a big draw among foreign tourist.
Kumar Pushkar, KSTDC managing director, said, “There is no doubt that demonetisation has impacted the tourism industry heavily. The bookings for lodges, safaris, tours have come down. Normally, this is the season when people head out to various places and we make best use of this time.”
Voicing a similar opinion, tourism minister Priyank Kharge said, “The unplanned announcement of demonetisation has been tough on travellers. Foreign tourists in particularly are bearing the burnt. Initially, they could not even exchange their old notes as they did not have a PAN card or Aadhaar card. The external affairs ministry website too did not have any information regarding this. Most importantly, it sends across a bad message to those travelling in our country.”
Rakshit, who runs a travel agency in Koramangala, said, “Many people came to us asking to refund their trip and we had no option but to return their money. The problem is that most of our tourist destinations accept only cash. If we want to make India a cashless country, then we need to facilitate digital payment at such destinations.”
A few tourists who took the chance and decided to go on their planned trips had a tough time. Arnab Sarma, who visited Gokarna with his family between November 27 and December 4, said, “Nobody accepted debit cards, neither the hotel where we stayed nor the restaurants. So instead of spending my time on the beach, I went in search of ATMs.”