The ongoing Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) has hit the tourism industry in a significant way, as anti-government protests have rocked several cities this month. With at least seven countries issuing travel warnings, about 25 people have been killed in clashes between the police, protesters and demonstrations against the CAA, which critics see as anti-muslim.
Officials have estimated that in the past two weeks about 200,000 domestic and international tourists cancelled or postponed their trips to the Taj Mahal- almost causing for a 60 per cent decline in the visitor’s footfall to the popular tourist attraction. The United States of America, Russia, Britain, Singapore, Taiwan and Canada have already issued travel advisories asking their citizens to either avoid or refrain from visiting regions that are embroiled in the protests in India.
UP #tourism takes a hit amid ongoing anti-CAA protests in the state & across India. In the two weeks of December, more than two lakh domestic and foreign tourists have canceled their trip to the #TajMahal@ShahnawazMalik_ #Tourism #CAAProtest #CAA_NRC_NPR #AntiCAAProtests pic.twitter.com/cKaX2OPZz3
— GoNewsIndia (@GoNews_India) December 30, 2019
Police Inspector Dinesh Kumar, who oversees a special tourist police station near the Taj Mahal, addressing the advisories and the protests added that “ Indian and foreign tourists have been calling our control rooms to check security. We assure them protection, but many still decide to stay away”. Similarly to help clamp down on violence and unrest, authorities have reportedly suspended mobile internet services in Agra.
Modi’s government denies all accusations related to the CAA.
Sandeep Arora, president of the Agra Tourism Development Foundation that groups more than 250 tour operators, hotels and guides also expressed that the effort of blocking the internet has affected travel and tourism in Agra by about 50 to 60 per cent. Likewise, due to ongoing protests and travel advisories by various countries, Assam has also suffered the blow, with tourist numbers going down by 90 per cent in the month of December.
Delhi ki itni thand mein jab hum pocket se haath bahar nahi paate, Indians #CAAProtest ke liye sadak pe nikle hue hain.
Massive respect for protestors at Shaheen Bagh who are on the road to protest against Modi's divisive agenda.
— Kapil (@kapsology) December 31, 2019
With critics saying that the law coupled with the plans for a national citizenship register discriminate against Muslims and are an attack on the secular constitution by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. Having stroked fears at home and abroad, including in Washington, DC and at the UN rights office, about India’s 200 million Muslims have been marginalised. Modi’s government has however denied any accusation that the law, which eases naturalisation procedures for Non-Muslim minorities from three nations, is in any way part of a master plan to reshape India as a purely Hindu nation.
Thus, what the future holds for both India and the Travel industry will all depend on the outcome of these protests.