Taken for a ride at 2012 Mysore Dassera Festival

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INDIA (eTN) – L’orient Travels has reported good as well as critical happenings in India for a simple reason: it’s not always smooth sailing while traveling in India.

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INDIA (eTN) – L’orient Travels has reported good as well as critical happenings in India for a simple reason: it’s not always smooth sailing while traveling in India. In India, tourists are held in high esteem and like destinations, need to be treated with care and respect. Unfortunately, this is not what transpired to a family of five expats (holding resident visas for India) who visited the recent Dassera Festival at City Palace Grounds in Mysore.

Entry to the Palace grounds is now strictly on issuance of tickets for the festival, ticket prices range from an astounding Rs 8000 to Rs 1200 and Rs 600. The procession, consisting of caparisoned elephants, decorated horses, village acrobats, folk dancers, and decked chariots, begins at 1:30 pm at the grounds, winding its way through the city and ending at Banimantap after four hours. Tourists gather at palace grounds to witness the spectacle a few hours before it actually begins because of pandemonium and crowds.

Anja. L was in for a rude shock upon arrival, when she and her family found the entrance gates completely closed and entrance not possible. While communication in many parts of Karnataka poses a challenge at many tourist spots, not getting a proper reply added to the frustration. They then found themselves temporarily barricaded and were unable to get into the grounds or out of the mess for the next three hours. Many other tourists found themselves in a similar predicament, though they held valid tickets. A couple of hours later a large group of onlookers broke through the barricades and entered the so called “enclosure.” With crying children, Anja later recounted she was happy to leave the venue unscathed, and she didn’t bother about taking the refund from the travel agency at the hotel where they resided. Hopes of witnessing a delightful event were smothered and laid to rest even before the festivities began. They left the event feeling cheated, frustrated, and terribly angry.

The second problem they continuously face is being charged the foreigner entrance fee, despite holding a resident visa for India. Either the ticketing officers at various monument entrance sites are ignorant of this rule, or they simply don’t want to be bothered. The above-mentioned incidents don’t augur well in promoting tourism to India for a simple reason – tourism is all about adding to comfort value (especially for paid services) and not increasing hardships on a journey. Renegading on a promise to deliver is definitely not going to bring back either referrals or repeat customers. Tourists like Anja will have sorry stories to take back home.

We hope by highlighting the issue and taking it up with relevant authorities, such incidents are not repeated in the future. Visitors pool in savings, take time off from work, travel thousands of miles to visit their dream destination. Unsavory incidents leave a bitter taste, and ultimately nations suffer with poor footfalls from overseas countries. Put conversely, are some states in India satisfied with its high domestic visitor count at their tourist sites? Food for thought and a point to ponder.

The author of this article, Hector Dsouza, is President or L’orient Travels in Mumbai, India, and an Ambassador for eTurboNews.

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