tourists wagah border
Estimating the arrival of one lakh tourists during season time, an industry stalwart said that within the last eight days the arrival of tourists has gone down by nearly fifty percent. [Representational Image] In Picture: Western tourists cross the India-Pakistan border at Wagah border 20 km (12 miles) from the city of Amritsar in the northern Indian state of Punjab September 27, 2001. Slightly more Western tourists are entering India from Pakistan at the lone road border crossing point as U.S. forces mass for possible strikes on Afghanistan but there has been no mass exodus, officials say.Reuters

The tourism industry in Punjab has taken a beating due to the current hostile situation between India and Pakistan. Industry insiders say that tourist footfall to the holy city of Amritsar has plummeted as much as 45 per cent in the past eight days. They also fear that normalisation of the situation may be a distant dream for now.

"Our business has come down to 35 per cent. People are still cancelling their bookings. Besides there are no new bookings," Charanjit Singh Chadha, a prominent hotelier, was quoted as saying by the Times of India.

Chadha, who runs three hotels, felt that the government has been responsible in creating a threatening climate where people panic thinking about war. He added that the government should issue statements to ensure return of normalcy.

"The villages were evacuated, schools were closed and tourists are not allowed to see the beating retreat ceremony. All this gave a very scary message outside Punjab," Chadha added.

Another industry stalwart, Surinder Singh, who is a member of the Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India, said that as information regarding evacuation of villages spread, the number of requests for cancellations received by hoteliers increased.

Estimating the arrival of one lakh tourists during season time, Singh said that, in the last eight days, the arrival of tourists has gone down by nearly fifty per cent.

Angrej Singh, who runs a fleet of taxi from Amritsar said, "There are hardly any tourists for Attari since government banned visitors. We had bookings for various destinations in Himachal Pradesh from Amritsar. Now, those have also been cancelled. Many tourists are going to hill stations of Himachal Pradesh from Chandigarh and are avoiding border cities of Punjab".

"Sales have suddenly dipped, as against a routine of over 100 customers a day, we are receiving five to six customers," said Charan Singh, who runs a shop in Amritsar.