Tourists are avoiding Delhi as air pollution reaches record levels

A girl waits to cross the railway line on a smoggy morning in New Delhi
INTERNATIONAL – Business travelers and tourists are avoiding New Delhi, as air pollution in India’s capital reached record levels, travel agents said.
Booking inquiries for hotels and flights to New Delhi have slumped since the Hindu festival of Diwali on Oct. 27, said Sharat Dhall, chief operating officer of the business-to-consumer segment at Yatra Online Inc. Bursting of firecrackers as part of the festivities worsened pollution caused by farm stubble burning in areas around the capital city.
Business travelers are looking to reschedule their visits to a later date, Dhall said in an email, adding that tourists are preferring Himalayan hill stations and destinations in the state of Rajasthan, home to the Thar desert, over New Delhi, famous for the 12th-century Qutab Minar and the Red Fort, built in the 17th century.