How credible is the incredible ticketing?!

Incredible isn’t it when Aamir tries to educate our youth, the children and their parents, elders and other citizens… to keep India’s monuments, cities, lanes, villages, waters and their surroundings clean and tidy. And, all this for? Yeah! Of course! You and I are no strangers to the fact that these places contributed US$37.3 billion in 2013 to our country’s GDP and will grow at the rate of 7.8-8% YoY for the next 20 years, as predicted by UNWTO. Travel-Tourism-Hospitality is the largest service industry in India and caters to varied tastes via adventure, serenity, cultural, medical, business or enterprise and sport tourisms. As the numbers say – almost 84.7 per cent of the total tourism revenues would come from the local population and the rest from our Atitis.

Coming to the fact that a significant portion of the pie comes from our brethren travelling from foreign lands, who love to visit the culturally-rich heritage sites, our government invests heavily in managing them and also promotes their development and maintenance. Many of them are approved as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO and fall under the authority of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) as well. To maintain these is definitely no less than feeding the Goliath and our poor government officials do not use their cash stacks from Swiss Banks, but use the money that the Swiss and other nationals pay for their admission into these human-built, or sometime naturally-formed, artefacts. While our Atitis are being treated as Devs (gods), they pay heavily compared to the local Indian tourists.

Being in an institution that is well known for its student-exchange-cum-student-foreign-trip-in-4-lakhs-for-three-months, pigeons from abroad flock to India to switch places for those going from here. While an innocent pigeon named Fenny mentioned to my friend – “I been to Taj Mahal. Nice place. But, why ticket for us for 750? And you pay very less? Costly!” – he was prompt enough to login to the internet and check the rates. It was actually shocking to know that they pay Rs. 750 per individual while Indians pay only Rs. 20. We pondered – Do our friends from Lala-lands get special treatment for the extra price they pay? No. Like every other Desi traveller they need to face shabbily dressed and fake-knowledged guides, get no mineral water or snacks, need to hear the stupid ghazals and shayaris that small children are made to memorize and blabber in front of travellers just to get tipped with meagre amounts. Then why do they pay the extra ticket amount?

My buddy even took an extra step of drafting an email to the authorities of the Taj to question their intention in having the visitors pay this huge differential price. All in vain… Where or how do we know why this difference? The answer lies in the rules of 1959 laid out by the Government of India’s Gazette under the Guidelines of the Ancient Monuments Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR). An article from The Hindu [August 17, 2014] quotes: “an average foreign tourist pays almost 100 per cent more for entry to Delhi’s ancient monuments than Indian citizens do”, as India follows a Dual-Pricing ticketing model under which the tickets are different for nationals of India and the ROW. The Additional Director General of the ASI says that every Indian has the right to see a local monument and may not afford exorbitant prices. Some monuments follow dual-pricing for SAARC, BIMSTEC countries on one level and for the ROW on the other. Few foreign nationals were of the thought that they were “okay” in paying higher ticket rates as they have higher per-capita income and more so India was liberal in its rates when it comes to paying $72 to get into Machu Picchu or $21 to reach the Statue of Liberty; Taj stood only 8th in the list at $12.6. The larger picture here is not having them pay higher, but having the Indian citizens pay lower.

And why just Taj, consider Amber place at Jaipur – Here the rates are still ok-ish with Indians paying Rs. 25 and others paying Rs. 50. But, it is still double! And what about Salarjung Museum in Hyderabad – Rs. 10 for locals and Rs. 150 for foreign nationals and Tipu Sultan’s Palace in Mysore – Rs. 5 for locals and Rs. 100 for foreign nationals (insert the shocking emoji). Agreed that the difference in prices could cater to the extraction of monies for maintenance, the volume of Indian nationals is high and their contribution to tourism is rising, as pointed out earlier at the start of this article, this market can be streamlined in a better and organized way.

Lower prices means larger crowd; larger crowd means unmanageable, intolerable nuisance at monuments where even small children or even ladies have to face the heat of standing in long lines; they get pushed, pick-pocketed, robbed and have a bad experience. While the tourism industry is all about experience – are we actually providing it? Just go to the Taj (yes, I am using this example itself again and again – Thanks to my ‘only’ MBA ‘Class’ trip till date :P) and on any normal day and you would feel it is no less than a 80% Sale Bazaar or Chandni Chowk or a Free-Prasad day! So much crowd that the experience is just a 2 seconds’ glimpse of the Maqbara and a two-finger hanging clichéd Taj photo. :/ What if the entry were restricted to only an elite crowd that can afford a higher ticket rate. Think!

We could propose a rough plan to our ASI to give it a thought on changing the ticketing system – Get a School/College Package and a Non-School Package. For School/College Children, the pricing can be comparatively lower, as the current Indian national entry prices, as they would learn from their visit to the sites and others, who visit to the cities and sites, can be charged equivalent to the foreign counterparts. Due to increased ticket rates, even if the ticket size of the incoming crowd reduces to 60%-70%, the amount coming from it would be enough to pay trained security personnel, trained guides, better security – by getting them technologically equipped, we could have cleaner surroundings and cater to an effective maintenance of the site and give that EXPERIENCE… and include them in the 10 places to visit before you die!

Good Day,
Blabberer, Ally 🙂

Thank you for all your love, likes, reads and comments. Wish my blog a good luck and a happy birthday by hitting the like button. It is two years today. Thank you!

References –
• The excerpt from The Hindu –


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