It looks like troubles of our own irresponsible making are plaguing global tourism in 2019.

After numerous incidents of gun violence, many countries have issued warnings to their citizen travelers bound for the United States. From being the most visited nation in the world, over the last few years, the US has dropped few notches and no, it’s not ‘Trump Slump’ that’s to be blamed.

Normalizing man-made disasters and saying gun violence or bandhs or floods are part of the destination experience is preposterous. No tourist wants to get shot, stuck in the airport or hotel room, or drown!

The unprecedented political unrest in Hong Kong over the extradition bill has paralyzed the tourism sector of ‘Asia’s World City’. The Dragon Boat Carnival had to be cancelled in June and even the airport got shut down in August! The local tourism industry is expecting a double digit negative impact.

The US-China trade war has impacted Chinese visitations to all markets they frequent, and hotels, airlines and other travel-related businesses dependent on the whopping 150 million Chinese outbound travellers annually. Chinese tourists are taking their money to European countries such as Italy and the UK because they feel welcomed. During the Labor Day holiday in early May, the US ranked as the ninth most popular travel destination for Chinese tourists, down from fifth spot last year.

Two years of the Qatar blockade has not only affected the tiny Arab State but also tourism in the GCC region especially that of the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Qatari travelers make 1.3 million trips a year to Saudi Arabia and spend $1 billion. Visitor numbers from Qatar account for just more than 1 per cent of total arrivals to UAE but, being big spenders, Qataris contribute 2 per cent of total tourism receipts. The hotel sector of UAE has borne the highest burden with estimated revenue loss of AED 600 million per year. The Amazon fires are not accidental; they were set for selfish gains. The world’s largest tropical rainforest is critical to preventing runaway climate change.

The large scale floods across India have severely derailed tourism across many States/UTs. While the government conveniently calls it a natural disaster, abuse of nature and its resources through actions like unscientific land-use changes, avaricious reclaiming of rivers, indiscriminate construction, and irrational quarrying and mining are principal causes for the excessive flooding and landslides. 10 States/UTs are currently on flood alert!. Abrogation of Article 370 is the last pin on the coffin for J&K Tourism industry.

God’s Own Country Kerala has another human-engineered feat to its credit – bandh/hartal. In 2017, the State clocked 120 days of shut down while in 2018, it was 97 – each day burning a Rs. 200 crore hole in the economy of the State and bringing tourism to a grinding halt.

Normalizing man-made disasters and saying gun violence or bandhs or floods are part of the destination experience is preposterous. No tourist wants to get shot, stuck in the airport or hotel room, or drown!

It’s time to take decisive action to defend our means of livelihood. We need to hold our elected representatives accountable and ensure corruption, ego, jingoism and short-sighted political one-upmanship give way to transparency, inclusivity, accommodation of diversity in thoughts and progress for all. Only then tourism, our bread and butter, can survive and prosper.

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Categories: Editor's Note