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E-ticket may be reducing tourist footfall at Srirangapatna, Somanathpur

By R. Krishna Kumar

Is the e-ticketing system at some of the monuments under the jurisdiction of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) hampering tourists instead of increasing footfall?

The concept of e-ticketing was introduced to reduce the drudgery of standing in a queue and saving time, besides minimise human contact, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic

However, if local stakeholders are to be believed, the concept has had a negative impact on tourist traffic.

There should have been an increase in tourist footfall to ticketed monuments like Dariya Daulat at Srirangapatna in Mandya district and Keshava temple at Somnathapur in Mysuru district, especially during the peak tourism season coinciding with summer holidays.

Instead, there is an approximately 25% drop in visitors, as they are forced to return without gaining entry to the tourist attraction. Locals, including licensed guides, attribute the trend to the online e-ticketing system for entry to monuments. The e-ticketing system is managed by the ASI.

A case in point is the Dariya Daulat Bagh, which is the summer palace of Tipu Sultan at Srirangapatna, which is a ticketed monument. The monument attracts about 5,000 visitors on weekends, and around 3,000 visitors o=on weekdays. During the pre-Covid-19-pandemic times, the monument would receive around 8,000 visitors during vacations.

Though tourist footfall is gaining traction ever since the unlocking, almost 30% return without seeing the popular attraction due to issues with procuring tickets online, or e-ticket.

The Hoysala temple at Somanathpur in Mysuru district. (Source: The Hindu)

A majority of the visitors are from the rural hinterland, who come in private tourist buses and in large groups. But since entry tickets are no longer issued at the entrance, the tour conductors urge them to move on to the next tourist attraction, as procuring online tickets for a group is a time-consuming exercise.

Among other things, procuring an e-ticket necessitates submission of details of an ID card, which has to be produced at the entry gate for verification. Not many tourists tend to carry an ID card all the time.

This is particularly true of tourists who book a same-day-return itinerary to Srirangapatna and Mysuru. To save time, tour managers tend to skip Dariya Daulat Bagh, according to local stakeholders.

The Chennakesava temple at Somanathpur, which is another ticketed monument of the ASI, draws about 1,000 tourists during weekends in peak season. A majority of the visitors tend to be from the rural hinterland.

‘’Despite encouraging number of visitors, about 20% of them return without entering the temple as they are unable to procure an e-ticket, as the transaction gets timed out or rejected. Besides, a majority of visitors from rural and even semi-urban areas are not conversant with online payments,” said Devaraj, a licenced guide at Somanathpur temple. This is affecting the livelihood of guides in ticketed monuments, he added.

These issues have been brought to the attention of higher authorities, including the need to reintroduce counter sale of entry tickets while retaining the e-ticketing system as well. Stakeholders are waiting to see whether their feedback will be incorporated in the tourism plans of the Karnataka Government.

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