Udaipur killing: Tourists cancel hotel bookings; business expectations post COVID suffer jolt
Udaipur killing: The tourism industry in Rajasthan, especially in Udaipur is witnessing a major setback in the wake of the gruesome killing of Kanhaiya Lal. According to the stakeholders, more than half of the hotel bookings made for the next two months in Udaipur have been cancelled.
Tourists are now fearing the incident, which has deeply hurt the image of the city on a large scale, will have a negative impact on tourism, which is the main source of livelihood for a majority of people in the city.
"Immediately after the incident and curfew, guests started cancelling the advance bookings. I had a good number of visitors for weekends during the monsoon season in July and August, but more than 50 percent of bookings for the next two months have been cancelled in the last five to six days," Sudarshan Dev Singh, senior vice president of Hotel Association of Udaipur and owner of Karohi Haveli said.
He said the tourism industry has suffered for two years due to COVID-19 and the stakeholders were expecting good business this year, but the murder dented such prospects.
"Udaipur has been a very peaceful city and no such hate crimes have happened. This is a setback not only for Udaipur but for the entire Rajasthan where tourism is a key industry," Sanjay Kaushik, secretary of Rajasthan Association of Tour Operators, said in Jaipur.
"Many of the tourists who had done advance bookings for Udaipur have cancelled their visits in view of the incident. Apart from attractive places, a peaceful environment is one of the key reasons that attract tourists, but this incident has created a negative impression," he said.
Kaushik, too, said bookings are being cancelled.
Surrounded by lush green places and hills, Udaipur is a well-known tourist destination known for its serene atmosphere, picturesque locations and lakes, and enjoys a special place on the country's tourism map.
Lakhs of tourists, both foreigners and domestic, visit the city of lakes every year. It is also a hub of handicrafts.
Most tourists in Udaipur visit Jagdish Chowk and Hathi Pole area, and Maldas street, where the barbaric killing of tailor Kanhaiya Lal took place on Tuesday, is located nearby.
Most of the shops located in the area are of handicrafts, textiles and jewellery.
"The image of Udaipur has been badly tarnished and I am getting calls from my friends as well as clients from different parts of the country, who are expressing surprise that such extremists and radical elements are openly executing murder in such a brutal manner. This impression is certainly a cause of worry for all of us," Devendra Javliya, a handicrafts trader in the Hathi Pole area, said.
Tourist guide Gajendra Singh Rathore said, "We all are shocked by the incident. Generally, crimes take place in every city but this was extreme and has shaken people across the country. Tourists take good memories from Udaipur and some of them have even bought properties here just because of the calm and peace in the city, but after the incident, a very bad impression about the city has been created," he said.
"Udaipur has been a top wedding destination, a famous and safe tourist spot, but these two extremists have demolished the city's image. They not just murdered Kanhaiya, they hit the livelihood of lakhs of people who are associated with the tourism trade directly and indirectly," he said.
Additional Director General of Rajasthan Police Dinesh MN, who served as the Superintendent of Police in Udaipur from 2004 to 2007, said trust is needed to be restored in the city.
"Udaipur is known for its tourism and a large number of people are associated with this trade. We need to restore the atmosphere of trust in order to normalise the situation. The situation of mistrust is not in the interest of people and the city," he said.
The officer is currently camping in Udaipur to handle the law and order situation.
Kanhaiya Lal was killed on Tuesday afternoon by two cleaver-wielding men, who also posted a grisly video of the crime online claiming responsibility for the murder.
The two accused Riaz Akhtari and Ghouse Mohammad were arrested hours after the incident while fleeing on a motorcycle.
Two more people, who were allegedly involved in a recce of Kanhaiya's shop and in the alleged conspiracy to kill him, were also arrested later. They are in the custody of the National Investigating Agency, which is probing the case.
(With inputs from PTI)
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