Foreign travellers’ absence hurts Rajasthan tourist spots even as normalcy returns

Forts and other tourist spots in Rajasthan opened for all by the end of June following the second wave of Covid-19 but it is in August that the tourists have returned, providing a semblance of normalcy to these places. However, the absence of foreign tourists is proving to be a dampener for the tourism sector.

“It has been better after we opened following the recent lockdown. We have started functioning fully and the response of tourists has been better than last month, last year and even better than what it was in January,” said Dilip Sharma, superintendent of City Palace, which has begun to see around 600 tourists on weekdays and 2,000 on the weekends.

Ravi Bhatt, a puppet show artist within the City Palace, said that while the Indian tourists have begun to come, the foreigners, who kept their businesses afloat, are missing. “Local artists all over the state have been affected since foreign tourists are not coming.”

“It has been better, especially in the last few days. We make up to Rs 60,000 on the weekdays and Rs 2,00,000 on the weekends. Which is the best that we have seen since the pandemic began,” said RC Sharma, head of City Palace Gate 2 ticket counter. He added that people have begun to come only after the onset of monsoon in the city.

Jantar Mantar, which is right across the City Palace, has been seeing a surge in tourists too. The observatory receives up to 1,000 tourists on weekdays and up to 2,000 on the weekends, said its superintendent Mohammad Arief. “City Palace receives fewer tourists than us. Although we are only receiving Indian tourists, the drop in foreign visitors has been felt in the numbers. This is the reason why our ticket sales are less than 50 per cent than that of pre-covid times,” Arief said. A possible reason for the drop in ticket sales is that there are no tourist groups going on trips amidst the pandemic, I added.

However, there is an uptick in the income, compared to times before the second Covid wave. According to Hawa Mahal data, the tourist spot generated an income of more than 15 lakh from August 1 to 15, which is thrice the income in the corresponding period in July and double in April, before shutdowns.

Along with tourist spots, ethnic resorts like Chokhi Dhani have also seen the return of normalcy. “It has been better than the beginning of the year because people were staying away due to fear of Covid,” Chokhi Dhani manager Mahendra Singh Naruka. He added that while up to 500 tourists visit on the weekdays and up to 1500 on the weekends, there has been about a 40 per cent drop in the tourist inflow from pre-Covid times.

Nikunj, a tourist from Mumbai, said, “It has been a year and a half and we don’t know for how long this would go on. Although there is a sense of uncertainty since we are with our young daughter, we figured Jaipur is a safe place and wouldn’t be too crowded.”

“People are sitting at home, everyone is tired and wants to go out now, especially since people are beginning to get vaccinated. One of the reasons Jaipur is a safe destination for tourists is because Covid cases are lower here than most other tourist spots,” said Sarojini Chanchalani, superintendent of Hawa Mahal.