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Delhi Games drive away tourists

Ruchika Chitravanshi  |  New Delhi 

Far from attracting tourists, the New Delhi Commonwealth Games seem to be driving them away. Travel agencies have seen almost 50 per cent cancellations in bookings for the period of the Games (October 3 to 15).

Delhi, along with Agra and Jaipur, falls in the golden triangle of Indian tourism. The city gets a large number of tourists every year. The rush begins sometime in October when the heat subsides and the weather turns pleasant.

“People are now making their travel plans after the Games,” said Sabina Chopra, co-founder of Yatra.com, a travel portal. Most travel attributed the cancellations to the negative publicity the Games have generated in India and abroad. With restrictions on movement on the city roads, the high-security alert and the outbreak of malaria and dengue because of excessive rainfall, tourists have opted for other destinations over Delhi.

“Sightseeing in such travel restrictions will become extremely difficult in Delhi; the outbreak of dengue and the security concerns over the Games have not really been an incentive for the foreign tourists,” Stic Travel Group Chairman Subhash Goyal said.

However, for those who come to Delhi, the nearby destinations like Agra and Jaipur will be made more accessible by the Northern Railway through special trains during the Games. There are indications that Agra and Jaipur will continue to get tourists during the Games. “All the first-timers in Delhi want to see the Taj Mahal in Agra. The cancellations haven't brought down the cost of the packages for Agra and Jaipur,” said Chopra.

The Taj Commonwealth Express, which will connect Delhi with Agra, will run throughout the Games from October 3 to 13. This train will be meant especially for the athletes, trainers and foreign delegates. The passengers would be decided by the Organising Committee. It will pay for the reservations in the Taj Commonwealth Express.

The official travel agency for the Commonwealth Games is Le Passage to India which operates in the name of the Games Travel Office. “The office too hasn’t been able to do many bookings and had approached travel agencies to offload their inventory,” an industry source said.

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First Published: Sun, October 03 2010. 00:07 IST
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