The country has scope for tapping its vast tourist potential, which could facilitate a surge in revenues as well as provide high level of employment.
Despite steady increase in the inflow of foreign tourists, no concerted efforts have been made to improve infrastructure or to promote scores of less known tourist attractions other than the popular ones.
Basically, we Indians are very friendly, accommodative and welcoming.
But those at the touch points, cast a damaging image about our country; unfortunately every foreign tourist had to face them and deal with them.
Overcharging taxi drivers, unreliable guides, indecent auto drivers, room boys who steal money and documents, untrained guest-house attendants, deceiving local agents...
the list is just long.
They create an image among foreign tourists that Indians are inhospitable and unfriendly, whereas the opposite is true.
Foreign tourists are wary about their safety in India as the incidence of terror attacks, rape, molests and killings are rampant.
At the sight of foreign tourists, even government authorities at some places are trying to rob.
When I took my American boss to Ajanta Caves in Maharashtra, the fee for an Indian is just Rs.
10, whereas a foreigner has to pay Rs.
Same is the case with Hawa Mahal, where Indians pay Rs.
5, while foreigners are charged Rs.
100 for entering the Mahal.
It is a pure discrimination.
It is not the way we should treat our guest.
When I asked the archeological department guy there as why this discrimination, he said may be government wants to protect this place as it is a World Heritage Monument by getting more money from foreigners as they can't charge from Indians who might protest.
But he said he neither has any control over the pricing policy nor can suggest reducing the price for foreigners as he doesn't know who frames those charges (visiting charges).
The guy who fixes the price doesn't bother about tourists woes, while the guy who sees tourists' woes cannot do anything to reduce it.
How sad? Lack of clean, safe economic accommodation facilities at most of the tourist locations is a big letdown.
Foreign tourists had to settle with five star hotels for the kind of comfort and cleanliness they expect, which compounds their hardship as they had to pay through their nose.
Some of the other issues include: •Many of the tourist sites are littered, unhealthy and poorly maintained.
• Facilities and services are poor in many tourist spots • Inadequate transportation to reach and continue the journey •Lodging and quality food facilities are very poor • Limited availability of tourism information at very limited places •Agitation and demonstration by political parties often result in cancellation of flights, trains etc.
, causing frustration and fear among tourists • There is a lack of adequate security in many of our tourist locations which makes the tourists feel insecure •Airports, roads and other infrastructures need to be upgraded to global standards to attract more foreign tourists •Lack of availability of English-speaking, educated, courteous manpower in the hospitality sector and accreditation of genuine tourist operators These are just a few leaves taken out of the huge book of mismanaged tourism industry.
But the government and authorities concerned never seem to address these issues and create an environment that is more welcoming and accommodative for foreign tourists.
Aaditi Dhevo Bhava!