Jaipur: Despite joining the list of UNESCO world heritage cities in 2019, Jaipur remains poorly air connected for global tourists and is currently connected only to four countries — Bangkok, Dubai, Malaysia and Sharjah.
This is limiting Jaipur’s growth prospects in terms of tourism on a global level, tourism stakeholders said, adding that lobbying from big players in Delhi is limiting the chances of getting stronger air connectivity to other countries.
Not only Jaipur, but other tourist friendly destinations in Rajasthan, including Udaipur, Jaisalmer and Jodhpur also suffer poor air connectivity owing to which the state lags behind in foreign tourist arrivals, which contributres to the state’s GDP.
As per 2018 data, Tamil Nadu stood first in terms of foreign tourist visits registering 60,74,345 tourist footfalls for a 21 per cent share, while Maharashtra registered 50,78,514 foreign travellers for a share of 17.6 per cent share.
Uttar Pradesh had 37,80,752 visitors garnering a share of 13.1 per cent share of the country’s tourists, and Delhi had 27,40,502 visits making for a 9.5 per cent share.
Rajasthan stood at fifth position with 17,54,348 foreign tourist visits for a mere 6.1 per cent share.
“Poor air connectivity has been thwarting the chance of Rajasthan to touch the top ranks in terms of foreign tourist visitors. This is because the global tourists land in Delhi first, and then take a Rajasthan tour,” said Indian Heritage Hotels Association (IHHA) General Secretary Randhir Vikram Singh.
“Had it been a direct connect to Rajasthan, these numbers can shoot up many times, making Rajasthan the most prominent tourist destination not only in the country but across the globe,” he said.
“We all know that lobbying from Delhi is quite strong which directly hinders the air connect to this state. But now, when Jaipur has been included in the list of world heritage cities, why is no initiative being taken to connect it to other parts too?” he asked.
State Tourism Department tourism director Bhanwar Lal said: “It’s true that lobbying is quite strong from Delhi as all big players are located there. However, from our side, we are trying our best to enhance the air connectivity.” Finance Commission officials recently came here and we raised the air connectivity issue with them too. We brought forth how air connectivity within Rajasthan and outside the state, and on international routes, is pathetic.
According to Lal, the Finance Commission Chairperson N K Singh on a recent visit here was dismayed at learning about the dismal number of flights operating out of Jaipur.
“If a tourist who instead of landing at Delhi comes directly to Rajasthan, then his duration of stay in the state will increase, which will add to our GDP and employment generation,” Lal said.
Noting the challenges faced by the state, the official said that the seasonal nature of tourism in Rajasthan creates sustainability issues for airlines who find it difficult to operate throughout the year.
“However, when we look at Delhi’s prospects, the city also has a business angle due to which airlines get all-year customers, which is not the case for Rajasthan,” he said.
“We are trying to develop night tourism in the state. Summers can be equally pleasant as winters if we develop night tourism,” he added.
According to the airport director J S Balhara, Jaipur is currently connected to Dubai, Bangkok, Malaysia and Sharjah.
“There are two Dubai-bound flights, two Bangkok flights, and one flight each connecting Malaysia and Sharjah,” he said.