Fearmongering is driving down tourist arrivals

The Indian Association of Tour Operators said Middle Eastern travellers don't need to worry

The India Gate
The India Gate

Tour operators in India have sent out a message of assurance to prospective travelling, urging they are doing all they can to temper fears around the coronavirus.

The Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) told sister publication Arabian Business it is “doing whatever we can to assuage the apprehensions of foreign tourists, including that from the Middle East countries, in visiting India due to coronavirus-related fear.”

IATO president Pronab Sarkar explained: “The main news in most of the leading dailies in India was about coronavirus hitting the capital (Delhi). What has happened is that just one person in Delhi is suspected of infected with the virus and he is already quarantined. This type of fear mongering by media is the major reason for the fall in tourist arrivals and bookings.”

Outside of neighbouring Middle Eastern countries, India frequently is the top source market for many countries in the region. In both Abu Dhabi and Dubai, India is its top source market, with Dubai registering close to two million overnight visitors from India last year.

Arabian Business reported that India tourism sector has already taken a blow due to coronavirus-related fears. It stated that foreign tourist arrivals in the country are estimated to have fallen by 25% in the first two months of 2020 compared to 2019.

According to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) latest situation report on the coronavirus, there are currently 101,927 cases worldwide. India’s 31 official cases is comparably low compared to the likes of China, though it is still the second-worst hit area in the Southeast Asia region.

In the Middle East, WHO’s report notes that the UAE has 45 cases, while Kuwait and Bahrain have 58 and 49 respectively. KSA meanwhile has eight cases.

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