Tourism authorities in India are reporting a distinct lack of interest in hotel accommodation ahead of the Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
With the two week event scheduled for October – high season for tourists – many operators are reporting indifference from travellers ahead of the competition.
Construction continues at the new Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium
The malaise has been prompted by a combination of a substantial increase in prices, reports of star athletes pulling out of the Games and a lack of preparedness.
Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI) president Rajindera Kumar said: “The response has not been great so far.
“We have driven away our regular clients and if things don’t look up in the next 20 days, we will have to slash our rates and resort to distress sales.
“It is better than suffering a dead loss.”
Some big names have already been ruled out of proceedings in Delhi, including Jamaican sprinters Usain Bolt and Shelly Ann Fraser.
With London 2012 also looming, many top British athletes – including Jessica Ennis, Kelly Sotherton, Paula Radcliffe, Beth Tweddle, Dan Keatings and Louis Smith – have also opted out. Many have opted to focus on the upcoming European Championships, which offer the valued prize of Olympic qualification points.
Beijing Olympic gold medal cyclist Chris Hoy, who also won gold medals at the 2002 and 2006 Commonwealth Games, has also ruled himself out.
Fear of terrorism has also played a role, with New Zealand netball captain Casey Williams this week publicly telling her friends and family to stay away from the event.
The Games have also been beset with allegations of corruption as costs skyrocket.
India’s Enforcement Directorate (ED) has initiated proceedings against the members of the Organising Committee of the Commonwealth Games in India, with claims of extensive misappropriation rife.
Some commentators have even argued corruption may have led to shoddy building work endangering officials.
Bharatiya Janata Party leader, Vijay Goel, said: “Forging and fudging of various quality and safety checks has widely thrown open the possibility of mishaps, blackouts and accidents.”
The Indian Central Vigilance Commission has inspected 15 Games-related sites and found evidence of poor-quality work and evidence of fabricated construction-related strength tests.
Almost all the organisations involved had “used inadmissible factors to jack up the reasonable price”, it added.
However, organisers have been quick to dismiss speculation.
Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) president, Mike Fennel, said: “The Games are going on, and believe me, they are going to be very spectacular.
“I am satisfied they have done an excellent job with the venues.
“There is still some work to be done, particularly with the monsoon rains that did some damage to some of the venues, but we have corrected that.”
The Commonwealth Games are scheduled to take place October 3rd-14th.