Rajasthan News

Tour operator fears elections spoiling tourist season

by RajasthanDirect
Nov 01, 2013

Tour operators in Rajasthan fearing from Election Commission as election may spoil tourist season this time. As the tourist season just begun, tour operators fears that upcoming elections may be a spoilsport.

At this low time when inbound tourism has seen a drop of 25% from previous seasons, tour operators don’t want to suffer in the one month crucial phase when the Election Commission will start seizing vehicles for election duty. Incidentally, the Pushkar fair that ushers in the season is scheduled from November 9 to 17, just a few days before the state goes to elections.

“We had received a letter from the state election commission stating that they would not seize luxury cars connected to tourism for election duty. This is just the beginning of peak tourism time in Rajasthan and a shortage of luxury cars would affect the operators adversely. But reportedly some operators are complaining saying their luxury cars have been seized. We have written a letter to the commission requesting that luxury cars be exempted and hope that we get a positive response,” said Mohan Singh, general secretary, Rajasthan Association of Tour Operators.

According to tour operators in the city, about 140-160 luxury cars have been seized by the government from the small tour operators for elections. “What really is disheartening is the manner in which taxis are seized. The police work like recovery agents, stops the taxis, asks the tourists to get down on the spot and tell them to take a rickshaw and took away the car,” said Dilip Singh, president, All Rajasthan Tourist Car Association.

Affirming such incidents, Deepak Dhandh of V Care Tours, said, “It was so embarrassing when a client who was in Jaipur to check the venue for his daughter’s wedding, was stopped along the Delhi by pass en route to a hotel from the airport. We have been promoting Jaipur as ‘Destination Wedding,’ and this kind of experience certainly does not go well with the tourists. October was bad and the season has just begun for us. Leave aside paying installments, I won’t even know how to pay for the damage in the vehicle after election duty.”

Dilip Singh further said, “The election commission still works on antiquated 1951 guidelines when the first elections were held. The category of vehicles needed then was listed as bullock carts. But they have to realize that luxury cars today cost nothing less than Rs 20 lakh. For a small operator, it gets very difficult to sustain 1.5 months with no business and monthly equated installments of Rs 15,000- Rs 20,000. Added to that, in the last election we were being paid Rs 360 and this time with all the inflation and mounting expenses they have just increased it by Rs 140 which is very measly.”

There is no limit to the cars that the election commission seizes for election duty. “While we were assured luxury cars would be exempted, I had to write to the collector to release the cars seized, but since last 3-4 days, they have again started picking luxury cars,” Dilip Singh added.

“Considering that it is the tourism season in Rajasthan, we have exempted luxury cars from election duty. While the total requirement of vehicles is about 2,000 that includes Indica, Indigo, Jeeps and minibuses, we would need 30-35 luxury cars for observers and senior officials,” said Jaswant Singh, OIC, transport cell, State Election Commission.

src: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/25021254.cms

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