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Delhi’s toxic smog may hit tourism: ASSOCHAM

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The ongoing tourism season which is yet to pick up, could see a maximum hit with the Delhi and NCR pollution likely to economic impact in sectors like tourism, transport, automobile and real estate, an ASSOCHAM paper has said. According to a survey done by Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), the toxic smog in National Capital Region encompassing not only Noida, Gurugram and Faridabad but also right up to Ludhiana, Meerut, Panipat, Bhiwadi and Rohtak is likely to affect the economy in sectors like tourism, transport, automobile and real estate.

November and December are the peak months for foreign travellers to visit India, as majority of them opt for the Golden Triangle tourist circuit – Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. The ASSOCHAM feedback from tour operators and hoteliers point out a deep concern over the negative impact the pollution can cause to the economy, revealed the ASSOCHAM paper.

ASSOCHAM interacted with 350 tour operators who revealed that international tourists are quite particular about their health and safety and with such negative developments Delhi is bound to drop off from the map of international tourists who will pick ‘cleaner’ South Asian destinations. Even domestic tourists are avoiding Delhi. In comparison, international tourists are more sensitive about green tourism.

“The air pollution in Delhi-NCR is not just devastating the environment but harmful amount of gases, dust, fumes and odour are causing breathing problems to people. Companies should offer employees flexible working hours to cope with this problem,” the paper stated.

Along with the tourism, the transportation linked to the tourism, would also take a hit if investment and tourists traffic gets a setback. The transportation is one of the key contributors to the national economy in the services sector. Both transportation and tourism are highly employment-oriented and jobs may be a casualty of the pollution, the ASSOCHAM paper noted.

The chamber suggested a holistic set of measures for short-term and long-term to tackle pollution in the NCR. Besides, measures like ban on construction activities are sustainable as it affects the daily wage earning construction workers because causing delays in national projects like Delhi Metro, added the chamber.

The rising pollution levels will keep foreigners away, as they are too particular about weather and climate, including their safety. Currently no major cancellation has been recorded as money is paid in advance. But during the peak tourist season, foreigners who are still in the planning stage will become sceptical about visiting Delhi.