South Africa was ‘the' place to be to catch some live FIFA action and loads of fun for those who made it to Johannesburg early this year. While there, they made sure the world knew about it, by updating their Facebook and twitter accounts with info and photographs on all that South Africa had to offer.
Alas, we can't take in the same breadth about the forthcoming Commonwealth Games in New Delhi this October. The enthusiasm is missing, so far. If all those negative reports of scams (we are not only talking about the money but also the brouhaha surrounding condom-vending machines) weren't enough, industry figures show hotel bookings to be far below expectations. The government had expected 1,00,000 room bookings throughout the city but the numbers are dismal so far, barring the bookings made for the opening ceremony.
Producer Suresh Babu, an avid sports buff who has attended many international cricket matches and caught the FIFA fever live in South Africa, doesn't have the CWG on his agenda. The Games hasn't been projected in the right light, he points out. “When you travel to witness a sporting event, you look forward to an event with people's participation. The CWG has been in the news for negative reasons and I am not clear about the ticketing process for the games. High-profile events of this stature are rare in India and sadly, they are bureaucratic and political rather than people-oriented fun events. For instance, the common Hyderabadi had nothing to do with the Afro-Asian Games held in Hyderabad a few years ago,” he says.
Writer Swathi Sucharita still nurtures fond memories of her trip to South Africa. “Tourists received nothing short of a red carpet welcome. Differences of nationality blurred against the spirit of football. The hospitality was out of the world and there were no traffic snarls. We had smooth entry in and out of each stadium. New Delhi, though, would be different. In fact, many Delhiites want to stay away from the Games and if possible, travel out of Delhi those days to avoid all the traffic snarls,” she says.
With a month to go, travel operators and the hotel industry hope there will be last-minute bookings. Gauging the spurt in domestic travel isn't easy, since a large chunk of it comes through online bookings.
Keyur Joshi, COO and co-founder, MakeMyTrip.com feels, “It's too soon to gauge the situation. This is the period when people research and evaluate the available options; probably we will see a surge in enquiry and bookings by mid September.” He refrains from commenting if the government has done enough to promote tourism but points out, “Presently we haven't witnessed an increase in inquiries or bookings. We are anticipating a 5 to 10 per cent increase in international tourist inflow into New Delhi during the period of the Games.”
Keywords: 2010 Commonwealth Games