While thousands of tourists still struggle to find their way out of Uttarakhand which was hit by heavy floods last month, the tourism industry’s hearts go out to both the victims and the loss of tourism the state now faces until rehabilitation. The PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI) has estimated that the state of Uttarakhand has lost a revenue earnings of about Rs.12,000 crores from its tourism sector alone in the current fiscal on account of torrential rains that devastated the state.
Saurabh Sanyal, Executive Director, PHDCCI said, “Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) of Uttarakhand at factor cost at current prices stands at about Rs.1,07,548 crores in the year that came to an end on 31 March 2013, 11 per cent of the GSDP has been washed away in terms of prospective tourism earnings due to floods that engulfed the state in mid of this month (June). It may be highlighted here that tourism was concentrated vastly along sides of rivers of Alaknanda, Bhagirathi, Mandakini and Dhauliganga in both Garhwal and Kumoan regions.”
It is no surprise that Union Tourism Minister K Chiranjeevi has sanctioned a special financial package of Rs. 100 crores for restoration and reconstruction of the affected Government tourist facilities in Uttarakhand. This will be in addition to the Central Financial Assistance of about Rs. 95 crores already sanctioned during the current financial year for developing tourism infrastructure in the State.
The State Government has been advised to assess the destroyed and damaged tourist amenities and conveniences and come back with the requirement of funds for rebuilding the infrastructure. On examination of the demand, Ministry of Tourism will sanction funds. The funds sanctioned in the relief package will be utilised for restoration and reconstruction of tourist infrastructure across the State with a special focus on tourist facilities along yatra route which will be used for providing shelter to the disaster hit pilgrims and tourists.
Arun Verma, Owner, Always Marketing commented that tourists have cancelled preplanned trips to Uttarakhand.
In addition, the travel agents’ associations across the country have also made it their mission to provide any financial backing they can to the victims. The Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) has already donated a sum of Rs 2.5 lakhs to the Prime Minister Relief Fund, and has already begun donation drives to collect individual amounts from their members, said Iqbal Mulla, President, TAAI. Chander Mansharamani, Vice Chairman, India Convention Promotion Bureau (ICPB) revealed that the association, too, has donated Rs 1 lakh to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund and is collecting individual donations from its members as well for the cause. He added that the donation drive is getting good response.
The Association of Domestic Tour Operators of India (ADTOI) held a members emergency meeting to the same end as well. “We donated Rs 2 lakhs to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund, which is our first phase of aid. We did not want to rush in with offers of further help till the country’s leaders and the armed forces finish their rescue missions. Post that we will visit the rehabilitation facilities to see what additional aid we can provide,” said Subhash Verma, President, ADTOI.
Akshay Kumar, President, Adventure Tour Operators Association of India (ATOAI) revealed that the association went as a team with relief material to the Uttarakhand villages to provide whatever help they could. Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) has has requested members to provde financial support generously for this cause, said Subhash Goyal, President, IATO.
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