THE government has decided to offer “business class” treatment to those who pay more entry fee at Centrally protected monuments. Besides separate queues, they will be offered free bottled water, an information booklet and separate washrooms. The use of these washrooms will come free of cost, while regular visitors continue to use the pay-per-use toilets. The facility is likely to come into effect at select monuments next week.
Union Culture and Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma said, “Like you have a first class in trains and planes, why can’t you get better facilities at monuments if you pay more?” He added, “Since there are separate ticket counters and queues for high-value tickets, visitors will be automatically led to separate toilets.”
In April this year, the government introduced high-value ticketing windows at several World Heritage monuments, including the Taj Mahal, Qutub Minar, Hampi and Khajuraho, which receive a large number of foreign visitors. For instance, at Taj Mahal, foreign tourists now pay Rs 1,000 as entry fee, citizens of SAARC and BIMSTEC countries pay Rs 530 per head and Indian visitors pay Rs 40 per head.
Clarifying that the new system is not merely meant for foreign tourists, an ASI official said Indian visitors can also avail of “high-value facilities” if they buy the high-priced tickets.