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The Rajasthan government has announced that with restrictions being lifted under Lockdown 5.0, it will be reopening monuments under its archaeology and museum department for tourists, starting today.
All monuments—except those in containment zones and curfew areas—will be open four days a week for two weeks. Hours will be staggered at first, but from the third week onwards, tourists will be able to visit the monuments daily.
We were in conversation with Sreya Guha, Principal Secretary for Tourism, Art and Culture, Government of Rajasthan, to find out more.
What brought about the decision to open the state up for tourism today?
We decided to open up since most states are now easing lockdown norms, so we expect some movement of visitors to start. We felt opening up our attractions would also give a sense of “returning to normalcy.”
What is opening for the public?
We have reopened the monuments under the Archaeology Department and the museums. We have also opened up the biological parks and wildlife safaris. The tiger reserves will be opened after NTCA clearance.
Are you expecting domestic tourism to pick up in a big way?
The first movement we are expecting is very local. To celebrate the reopening, the monuments will have free admissions in the first week. Now that interstate travel has opened, we expect visitors from neighbouring states to also come, but it will be a gradual process. Our focus now will be domestic tourism.
What are the protocols being followed and what precautions are being taken?
We have sanitised and fumigated all our premises. We have SOPs in place. We are ensuring all hygiene and social-distancing norms are followed.
How has the tourism suffered during this lockdown in terms of numbers and are there any additional schemes the state is introducing?
We have taken a hit of 100% turn down in business compared to March 2019, as footfall has totally dried up. There are currently 90% cancellations for bookings for the next season.
By industry estimates, revenue loss in hotels/restaurants and other travel services will be more than Rs 12-15 crore, and the loss of direct and indirect employment of over 10 lakh people is anticipated in next 3-4 months. There shall be loss in terms of GST to the state government estimated to be over Rs 2,000 crore, since the total contribution of tourism in the state GDP is around 22 to 25 per cent.
We are working closely with the industry to prepare for the coming season and planning strategies so that we are able to recover in 2021. We have been sanctioned a Tourism Development Fund, which we are trying to utilise to promote tourism, and create new products that will be more attractive in a post-pandemic tourism scenario.
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