Heritage on wheels? It’s off wheels
By Express News Service | Published: 07th December 2012 09:10 AM |
Charminar and Purani Haveli remained closed on Thursday, December the 6th, observed as Black Day in the Old City. Chowmahalla Palace saw a footfall of only 6-7 as against an average of 100-odd foreigners. Normally, these places would be bustling with tourists, domestic and foreign on an average about 500 every day. But guess what? The Heritage on Wheels, a grand tour of the city sights in open-top buses, offered by the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC) is a “complete failure” in the words of one of its senior officers.
Launched in February this year, this weekend tour package operates on the basis of a minimum of 50% reservation. And much to the disappointment of tourists, the authorities don’t allow them to sit in the upper deck __ (so, don’t be misled by the sight of heroes and heroines singing with gay abandon in the upper deck of the open-top bus and going around the city!). The reason, a senior official said, is the ubiquitous presence of the hanging wire in the Old City and much of the core city. “There are hardly any takers for the Heritage on Wheels and Open-top buses. The project is a complete failure. The helicopter tourism project launched over a year ago has not started its operations yet either,” he said referring to the
APTDC’s ambitious 15-minute helicopter ride launched in September 2011. “The city tour service offered in A/C segment is not demanded by tourists who are mainly middle class people,” he added.
The Heritage on Wheels package covers historical sites like Salar Jung Museum, Purani Haveli, Dewan Devdi, Charminar, Mecca Masjid, Unani Hospital, Chowmahalla Palace and Lad Bazar. In an A/C bus, it costs around `2,000 per head per trip. The corporation operates two open-top buses. Chief reservation manager of APTDC K Anji Reddy admitted that the Heritage on Wheels package is not doing well as its operations are purely on the basis of demand from tourists. “We offer the package depending on the demand. If there is a minimum reservation of 50%, we do operate the service,” he said.
So, what in reality prevents foreign tourists from using the package? Rahman Ali, a cab driver outside Chowmahalla Palace, hits the nail on the head. “Foreigners prefer spending more time at destinations of their choice and are in no hurry to visit all tourist spots in city unlike domestic tourists who want to see everything in a short span of time paying as less as possible.”