This is the question, I saw recently on Facebook, shared by few people.
The answer for this question given by someone, puts us in a bad limelight. It projects us as discriminatory.
Travelling is something which has become an important part of my life. Hence, felt like sharing my views on this topic.
Something I have noticed with people spending most time on social media is, they share stuff for the sake of sharing. Or, just shared, because something just hit them, a new viewpoint, which they felt, is different from their regular posts. But, in doing this, they are missing the most important part, that is, the other side of the coin, the context.
When I travel, I have come across those boards with separate charges for foreign tourist. First I felt, it should not be this way, as guests are very important part of our culture.
But then, I recollected one incident which was shared to me by a colleague. She was our trainer. She, at one point in her career, had an opportunity to work with clients. Clients were foreigners, most. When they visited India for a meet, they wanted to try some spicy cuisines and local getaways.
So, she got the chance to be part of it. She told, one of the client offered a tip of Rs. 300 to the waiter. The Indians in the group whispered, it is too much for a tip, they suggested Rs.50 or maximum Rs. 100.
The foreigner said, she usually offers $ 3-4 as a tip when she is in her own country. So, she calculated and converted it into Indian rupees and offered INR. 300. This hardly made any difference to her.
See, there is a huge difference between our currency and the currency of the developed nations.
For us, Rs. 750 as an entry fee would seem too high, but for them, it is not. I haven't seen one foreigner refusing to enter a site, be it temple, archaeology site, et cetera, looking at the rate board. They don't, because they can afford it. They know it already, as now-a-days, they carry a book as their guide. They know the cost, they travel with proper itinerary.
But, if we start charging Rs. 750 to our own people, how many of us would go there. How come school children can visit these places and learn.
I strongly feel, the rates are lesser for domestic tourists, as to create an opportunity for them to have an experience of a lifetime. To learn our history. Everything cannot be taught in schools or through books. Traveling and witnessing things, first hand, is much needed for an individual.
Without understanding, this side, some have named our people and India as racists. I have seen post, calling Indians as coherent racist. Where is racism, in this context ?
Jumping to conclusion, without proper reasoning, is something, an individual cannot afford.
I checked few places around the globe and read few articles, wherein, I found, the charge to be same as what we charge foreigners. Some countries who are less developed, also charge their foreign tourist extra, to generate wealth, as tourism is the major driving force of their economy.
Statue Liberty : Adults : USD 21 approximately Rs.1,428
Great Wall of China : Adults : CNY 45 approximately Rs.500
Eiffel Tower : Adults : EURO 17 approximately Rs.1,200
The above figure are taken from the Internet. I am yet to travel to these places, but not soon.
There are places which are important to the locals, hence, the preferences to the locals is to be considered. For an example, I visited Trimbakeshwar, Nashik. Trimbakeshwar is an historical place, which attract tourists. I had to follow the queue, but locals don't need to. Visiting temple is a tradition, here, we cannot charge the locals to get inside the temple nor we can ask them to follow the queue. This cannot be seen as racism.
In Goa, I took the private bus services which runs in the inner part of the state. The locals were paying Rs.5, I paid Rs.10 for the same destination. Some, locals didn't even pay and the conductor didn't even insist.
In Hampi, a rickshaw driver charged us Rs. 800 for a day ride. They charge somewhere around Rs. 1,500 per day to foreigners. But, these are well trained drivers who can speak English and different languages. I saw a driver speaking Arabic. The rickshaw drivers in Hampi, have a complete maps of sites, so there is no chance of missing any point. The service offered to foreigners are better. Hampi, is a religious places. You will find more foreigners than domestic tourists. Some of my own friends, from Karnataka were not aware of Hampi. But, foreigners stay there for months, some have restaurants and small businesses.
Talking about business, a first thing comes to my mind is Rishikesh. Amazing, trip it was. This place is filled with foreigners. Specially, around Parmarth Ghati, the Beatles Ashram ...
If India, is so racist, why this people are here. If someone comes to our country, they are foreigners, if we go to theirs, we become foreigners in their country. There would be bad experiences, this is what travelling is also about. Traveling is learning.
I did not see separate charges for foreigners at Haridwar or Rishikesh. Same thing at Murudeshwar, Goa. Trimbakeshwar and Grishneshwari temples don't charge separate entry fees. Infact, Murudeshwar, has a Shani Temple, which allows women to enter the sanctum sanctorium (Garb Griha).
I went to Aurangzeb's tomb in Aurangabad. It is absolutely free. It is inside a mosque, but women are allowed. I received a warm welcome from the people. They have kept a donation box and I feel donating Rs.10 for the maintenance of the place isn't difficult for any one. This places are taken care by their respective trust. Hence. they don't have separate fee structure. However, sites are Hampi, Ajanta, Ellora and other similar sites, comes under the Archaeological survey of India. This organization reports to Ministry of Culture. Any form of government has to take money from the people, and return the favour, in various forms and services.
But, calling a country as racist, coherent racist, is something which is stretching it too much, unnecessarily, by some.
The topic is completely "Economics", it has nothing to do with country's mindset. One needs to understand, this type of decisions are taken by the establishment not by the people.
The establishment has to consider aspects like maintenance and amenities. So, it charges more to foreign nationals.
This is purely, Business and Economics. Once, we are fully developed like other western nations, I feel, we can roll back the charge and make it equal. This needs time.
Now, I come to the real question, "What can India and Indians do to attract more international tourist" ?
Yes, this some serious question. I feel, the answer would be, spending on cleanliness.
Cleanliness is not only governments responsibility, but majorly the responsibility of the people.
Then transport facility, I mean the quality of it. Our transport system is good but can be better. I feel, we need to improve. I strongly feel, we needs to encourage domestic airline. Airline, is something which will take time for us to get use to. But, travelling by air, needs to grow in our country.
Next is infrastructure, we need to have best roads connecting every village to the national express highway. The state roads which goes to the internal regions needs major repair and maintenance. We needs to invest in water transportation, also.
We, the people, are the major stakeholder in improving our travel business. Rest other requirement, like hospitality and read to help attitude, we have in abundance.
Last point, I would like to quote Mr. Anil Bokil, who recently stated in his interview to a Marathi news channels.
He said, the Social norms of the western countries is in danger. When there was a natural calamity in one of the western country, as the establishment collapsed, the place registered the highest number of crime.
Wherein, when there is nature calamity in our country, the crime rate automatically drops down. Our, Economic norm is in danger.
In the west, when the establishment is at stand still, the crime rate goes up.
In India, when the establishment is at halt, the crime rate goes down.
This is what we are !!!
This post was originally published on Bonnyxg.