Step Falls at Ajanta, Ellora and other tourist spots in 2021


While previously the workload of tourist management took up a lot of manpower, this year ASI has used manpower for the maintenance of these monuments, a- he declared.

Ajanta Caves. Photo/AFP

The number of visitors to significant landmarks in Aurangabad district, Maharashtra has drastically decreased this year due to the closure of tourist attractions for a few months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and guides as well as d ‘other people dependent on the tourism industry have faced livelihood problems.

Aurangabad, also known as the “Tourism Capital of Maharashtra”, has a number of attractions for visitors including the famous Ajanta and Ellora Caves, Bibi-ka-Maqbara, Daulatabad Fort ( Devgiri) and the cave of Aurangabad.

The number of domestic tourists to these five sites, which fall under the jurisdiction of the Archaeological Survey of India, fell to 5.94 lakh from March 21 to November 21 this year, from 19.77 lakh in 2019-20 ( pre-pandemic period) and 23 lakh in 2018-19, according to ASI data. The monuments remained closed in 2020-21 following the COVID-19-induced lockdown.

Until November 21 this year, only 745 foreign tourists visited these five monuments, compared to more than 40,000 in 2019-20, according to official figures. “The pandemic has taught us to curb the entry of tourists to our monuments. People learned about ticketing online and many of them have now considered it a routine practice,’ Superintendent Milan Kumar Chauley told PTI ASI, Aurangabad. Whereas previously the workload of tourist management took a large part of the manpower, this year ASI has used the manpower for the maintenance of these monuments, he said. -he declares.

“Previously, we had to deploy the workforce to control crowds, but this year we were able to focus on maintenance and cleaning work as the number of employees was not reduced despite the lockdown. “, said the official. But guides and others dependent on the tourism industry for survival have fallen on hard times.

Amod Basole, president of the Ellora Guides Welfare Association, said there were not many foreign flights this year and the policy regarding domestic tourism kept changing at the time. following the pandemic, reducing work assignments for them. ”There are nearly 60 registered guides in our district, but half of them have left the profession. Even if the activity stabilizes from now on, it will take at least three years to recover the total number of guides here,” he said. Another guide, Pankaj Kawde, said that before the pandemic, guides were in high demand at various tourist spots in Aurangabad.

”Now many of us don’t have jobs. It shows that there is panic among the people. Although visitation to tourist sites has increased somewhat during the current winter season, visitors do not seem keen on hiring guides. This has led to the depletion of our savings and many guides are dependent on the income of other family members,” he said. Some guides tried to venture into the taxi business but eventually had to sell the vehicles due to lack of funds to pay the monthly installments for the cost of the vehicle, Kawde said.

Aurangabad Tourism Development Foundation Chairman Jaswant Singh said his sector faces many obstacles this year. ”Few foreign tourists showed up in Aurangabad and connectivity was also an issue for them. Visitors coming by road were asked to provide RT-PCR reports at entry points in the district. Tourists were expecting cheaper fares for various services due to lower demand from businesses, but inflation and rising fuel prices have not allowed us to do so,” he said. he declares. Singh also said tourists prefer to travel to other states in the country where there are fewer restrictions.

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