Bihar has witnessed a considerable decline in the inflow of tourists ever since the Nitish Kumar government imposed prohibition on alcohol in the state on 5 April this year. According to the figures of Bihar’s tourism department, the total number of tourists coming to the state came down to 42.84 lakh during April-July this year, compared to 61.52 lakh over the same period in 2015. Call it the effect of prohibition or something else, the number of foreign tourists during the April-July period came down to 1.74 lakh from 1.91 lakh last year during the corresponding period.
The number has seen a decline during the January-July period also. It was 1.05 crore in 2015 which came down to 89.73 lakh.
The total number of tourists coming to Bihar was 2.89 crore in 2015 (January to December) with 2.80 crore domestic tourists and 9.2 lakh foreign tourists. Those associated with the tourism industry say that the trend may be due to prohibition on alcohol and also due to a lack of aggressive marketing. There is also a perception outside the state that the law and order situation has deteriorated and therefore, it is not safe to travel in Bihar.
According to Rajesh Kumar, a Patna-based official of the Association of Domestic Tour Operators of India (ADTOI), besides prohibition, deteriorating law and order situation and bad condition of roads are responsible for the decline in tourist inflow. “All MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and events) activities associated with the hotel industry, have shifted to other states. There are no conferences, product launches etc,” he said. Kumar said the occupancy rates in hotels have come down to 40-45% in Bihar because of the liquor ban and poor law and order situation. Connectivity has also suffered badly in the last few months because of poor maintenance of roads, he said. O.P. Sah, president of the Bihar Chamber of Commerce & Industries, feigned ignorance about the department’s data and said he will comment only after getting full details about it. “I was under the impression that the inflow has increased. But let me get the full details,” he said. Shashi Mohan, secretary general, Bihar Chamber of Commerce & Industries, said: “I am not sure what has led to this decline, though prohibition may have some role to play, though Bihar is not a place like Goa where people come for relaxation. Most of the tourists come here for pilgrimage. Prohibition may be one of the reasons.” Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has been stating that those who want to drink should not come to the state. He has also said that those who cannot give up the habit of drinking should go to other places.