Tsunami affects tourist footfalls in Orissa

News, Front of House

Friday’s ferocious tsunami has taken its toll on the tourism industry in the state of Orissa. The footfall of tourists from Japan to Orissa faces imminent dip as tour operators started witnessing cancellation of bookings made by India-bound Japanese visitors.

Not less than 90 Japanese tourists had booked hotels in Bhubaneswar and Puri for the next two months. Almost 70% of the bookings have been cancelled ever since the powerful earthquake and tsunami triggered an orgy of destruction in the Land of the Rising Sun on Friday.

"A 30-member team of tourists from Japan was scheduled to arrive in Bhubaneswar on March 27. But the killer tsunami washed away their plan and they cancelled the trip," president of tour and travel agents association of Orissa, Benjamin Simon said. "My colleagues in New Delhi also witnessed massive cancellation in bookings," Simon added.

"I expected the arrival of nine groups, comprising nearly 40 Japanese tourists, towards the end of March and April at Puri. All my bookings stood cancelled on Sunday," Saroj Rath, owner of Gandhar Hotel in Puri, said.

But owner of Santana Hotel Srimanta Dash was a little lucky. He said, "I took bookings for 20 Japanese tourists for the period between March 22 and 26. The tourists said they would not cancel their trip. I receive around 1,000 Japanese tourists a year," Dash said.

Sources said 3,563 tourists from Japan visited Orissa in 2009. The figure stood at 3,269 and 2,358 in 2007 and 2008, respectively. A total of 45,684 foreign tourists came to the state in 2009. France and the US were the major tourist-generating markets with 5,245 and 4,434 tourists visiting the state in 2009, sources said.

"Footfalls of Japanese in the country would certainly fall in the wake of the catastrophe. We would try to woo as many foreign tourists from other countries to compensate for the loss," state tourism director Temjenwapang Ao said.

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