Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Games a let down for hospitality

The Commonwealth Games have been an absolute let down for the hospitality industry. Anticipating a great rush during the Games, the hospitality industry  in Jaipur, had geared up to host about a lakh of tourists from Delhi. But despite the onset of the tourist season, there are no takers even for hotel rooms that are offering almost 30% discount on printed tariff.

So while the safaris at the Ranthambhore National Park are already sold out even before the park opens, the hotels there are crying for tourists. "Most hotels are empty—- but the jeeps for the safari are sold out," said a Ranthambhore Association of Hotel Owners source. Travel agents had expected a great rush and gone for block bookings in advance expecting to sell them at a higher price later.

"There is a reverse trend with this time. We have received 40 to 50% more bookings over the last year, at this time, for overseas destinations. With Delhi almost sealed, the hot selling travel destination is the Andamans," said Sabina Chopra of Yatra, a travel portal.

The seven-day package to the Andamans, with a specially hired plane for Rs 32,000 (all inclusive), has clearly taken precedence over Rajasthan for the travellers. "Besides in India, Goa is totally sold out from the 1-15 October," said Sabina. As a result, tourism has taken a severe lash in Rajasthan, with no takers, despite the season. The initial hype created around the CWG had a lot of groups buying up new properties or add rooms to the existing properties, just in time for the CWG traffic.

According to sources, to cater to the CWG traffic, an additional inventory of almost 750 additional rooms was created across segments from budget to ultra luxury. Besides, for the first time two prominent national tour operators, Le Passage to India and Sita Kuoni went ahead to expand their visibility in the state.

"The company has extended its operations beyond Jaipur in Rajasthan with the opening of four new offices in Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Bikaner the 'high footprint' cities," said Khalid Khan, executive director LPTI.

"But we can relax till mid-month as tourism has really taken a blow with the CWG. But just after the Games finish, we have a packed season," he said.

Similarly, after a span of five years, Sita Kuoni has once again started operations in Jaipur. "After winding operations from Jaipur in 2005, we have once again decided to establish our own base in the city, said Sanjay Sharma general manager Kuoni Rajasthan after inaugurating the office just before the CWG began.

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