Tour packages cancelled- The New Indian Express

Express News Service

KOCHI: Life is gifting those in the tourism industry a mixed bag of goodies. The tourism industry in the state has been picking up with a huge rush of visitors booking trips to God’s Own Country since December 20. But a dearth of tourist vehicles has turned villain. The situation now is such that tour operators are forced to cancel packages or not take up new enquiries.  

“The highest number of tourist arrivals into the state happens from between December 20 to the middle of January. Nearly all hotel rooms are booked and also the available tour buses and other vehicles,” said Rajesh P R, a tour guide. According to him, it is true that many tour operators are being forced to not entertain any more enquiries since they are unable to find vehicles to conduct tours.

Tour operator Jacob, of Marvel Tours, blames the current scenario on the steadily increasing airfares. “Since the agency does not want to overcharge its domestic customers, they are forced to deny them service. Many tour operators sold their vehicles during the pandemic and they are now unable to buy new taxis when the industry is coming back to life again. Taxi manufacturers and suppliers like Toyota have no vehicles to sell. The demand is high, as is the price,” he said. He asserts that the tourism industry is facing problems.

According to Bijoy, of Greenland Holidays, during the period between December 20 and January 10, the demand for tourist vehicles is high and there occurs a consequent shortage of vehicles in the market. He noted that this was not the case during the Covid pandemic when the tourism industry was at a standstill. “In the post-Covid scenario, it is often difficult to get the required vehicles. Tourists then go for alternatives like taking two buses instead of one and relying on small cars, or their own cars, when taxis for large groups are unavailable,” he added.

George Scaria, of Kerala Voyages Pvt Ltd, said that they cater solely to foreign tourists and use the agency’s own vehicles for transportation. Hence, they are not affected by the current shortage of tourist vehicles

“There are issues in the tourism market as there is no coordination between the government and the tourism department. The tourism industry received no support from the government during the pandemic and many tour agencies were not able to sustain their businesses,” he said.

“The pandemic broke the back of a majority of tourist buses and car owners. A major casualty was the Innova cars. A lot of tourist vehicle owners sold off their Innova cars to tide over the financial crunch. I too sold two of my cars.” According to him, the number of smaller vehicles has gone down very much,” said a tourist vehicle operator.

(Inputs: Liz Thomas Pattara)

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