Tourism in Assam suffers Rs 1000 cr loss due to CAA row

Tourism in Assam suffers Rs 1000 cr loss due to CAA row

The sector has been badly hit in December and will be in January too because of CAA protests. (PTI photo of CAA protests in Assam)

Tourism in Assam was the worst sufferer of the recent violent protests that broke out against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 with the sector staring at a loss of over Rs. 1,000 crores this season.

Chairman of Assam Tourism Development Corporation (ATDC), Jayanta Malla Baruah on Tuesday told reporters that the department already lost Rs. 500 crores since the violence broke out on December 11 with both domestic and foreign tourists cancelling almost all bookings for the season till March. The inflow of foreign tourists, which contributes maximum revenue to the sector was also severely affected with the US, UK, UAE, Canada, Australia, France, Israel, Taiwan, Russia and Singapore issuing travel advisories asking their citizens to avoid trips to Assam and rest of the Northeast.

"Nearly 50% of the tourists visit Assam between December and March and the state generate a revenue of at least Rs. 500 core per month during the period. But this time, the sector was severely affected due to the violence. The loss in December and January could be around Rs. 1,000 crores but we will try to reduce it from February onward," Baruah said.

At least five persons died in police firing after protesters went into rampage by burning vehicles, targetting government offices, blocking roads and pelting stones at the security forces. Most parts of Assam and rest of the Northeast erupted in protests against CAA that seeks to offer Indian citizenship to non-Muslims from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, who had migrated till December 2014. Indigenous communities in the Northeast fear that it would reduce them into minorities by giving citizenship to a large number of Hindu Bengali migrants from neighbouring Bangladesh.

During 2018-19, over 60 lakh domestic tourists and more than 41,000 foreign tourists visited Assam mostly to the rhino habitat Kaziranga National Park, Manas National Park, Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, the ancient Kamakhya temple and Sivasagar, the erstwhile capital of the Ahom Dynasty and others.

"This year we were expecting over 65 lakh domestic and nearly 50,000 foreign tourists as we had done several promotional activities last year. The violence affected livelihoods of at least 50,000 people working in hotels, resorts and those working as guides, tour operators, riding jeeps and others. But now we want to appeal the tourists to visit Assam as the situation is normal now, barring the peaceful protests against CAA. We are committed to ensuring the security and comfort of the tourists," Baruah said.

Ranjeet Das, president of Tour Operators Association of Assam said the violence pushed the sector into a crisis situation.

Tie up with Google:

As a damage control measure, Assam tourism department has tied up with Google for a digital campaign titled "Awesome Assam" in all platforms of the search engine. Small videos will pop up in all Google platforms including Facebook and Youtube as part of the promotional initiative. The department is also planning roadshows in Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai and Goa in February to attract domestic tourists to the state.

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