The outbreak of swine flu in Rajasthan and Maharashtra must be dealt with on a war-footing both by the Centre and the state governments as the disease taking epidemic proportion is expected to result in a loss of Rs 5,500 crore to the tourism and aviation industries, according to an assessment by industry body ASSOCHAM.

The worst hit would be Rajasthan which attracts fairly a large number of foreign tourists during the winter season beginning November-December and running through end of February and the first week of March. Maharashtra, including Mumbai, also attracts the second best number of foreign tourists in the winter season.

With both these states getting affected by swine flu, Rajasthan being hit worst, the number of tourists visiting Jaipur, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Jaisalmer and other locations in the western state is coming down drastically with the state government itself cautioning tourists against the disease.

In the winter season, roughly two -2.50 lakh foreign tourists visit the Golden triangle of Delhi-Agra- Jaipur  (and other Rajasthan cities), accounting for about 30 per cent of the total number of the inbound traffic in the country.

According to official figures, the arrivals at the Delhi airport of the foreign tourists with destinations is about 30 per cent of monthly traffic of about eight lakhs and most of them are headed for the Golden triangle. With increasing cases of swine flu and the kind of negative reaction on the tourists, the traffic is set to drop drastically in the running month of February leaving a bruising impact on businesses such as hotels, airlines, taxi operators, restaurants etc.

As much as Rs 4,000 crore could be a hit only on account of the net foreign exchange earnings while the secondary losses could add up another Rs 1200-1500 crore, as per the  ASSOCHAM ‘s conservative assessment. ” The real impact could be even more. Then, there is going to be an impact on the domestic tourism as well, though the domestic tourists flow slows down in January and February with the examination season in schools,” the chamber Secretary General D S Rawat said in a statement.