HYDERABAD: It was a bubble waiting to burst thanks to the reluctance of officials to spruce up the city’s most popular heritage sites. As per the latest statistics released by the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Department, historic landmarks such as the Qtub Shahi tombs and the Golconda Fort, which have helped place the city on the global tourism map, seem to be losing flavour. Last year, the Telangana agitation was cited as an excuse for the dwindling number of visitors. This time, no reason is forthcoming. Surprisingly, the various parks in the twin cities, some of which have new facilities, have managed to attract quite a good number of visitors.
The Golconda Fort played host to 2,74,624 domestic tourists in the first two months of this year as opposed to 2,86,835 during the same period last year, a drop in tourist numbers by 12,211. Even international visitors decided to give it a miss. Their numbers fell by over 300 this year compared to 2011. In the case of the Qtub Shahi tombs, while the first two months of 2011 saw 34,462 visitors, the number dropped down significantly to 31,846 this year, a drop by over 2500 tourists in just two months. The good news for the heritage lot though came in the form of Charminar which has more or less retained its traction among both domestic and international tourists.
As far as museums are concerned, the Salarjung Museum saw an increase in number of visitors by a whooping 33,366 with 221397 visitors in 2012 as compared to 188031 last year! The Andhra Pradesh State Museum though saw a marginal dip in numbers by around 600.
The HMDA could be proud to know that the parks maintained by it such as the NTR garden and the Lumbini Park have registered impressive figures. The NTR garden and Lumbini Park, both situated on the same stretch, played host to 2,87,335 and 2,98,889 visitors respectively in the first two months of this year alone. A couple of German tourists resting at the Lumbini Park did not hesitate a minute when asked to comment on why they chose a park over Hyderabad’s heritage monuments. “It’s already so hot. The parks provide perfect lung space. Anyway, the heritage sites close soon by 6 pm, and it’s very tiring to visit those sites during the peak noon hours,” said Mark Strauff, one of the Germans, who is in the city for the third time. Keshava Rao, a senior citizen from Hyderabad, chipped in, “in this kind of weather and also because of the better facilities on offer, we prefer parks to heritage sites.” Mark also said, “We have heard of some new tourist interactive features to be installed at the heritage sites, using GPS facility. Once there is better publicity about the same, and tourists are convinced, surely word will spread and Hyderabad’s heritage sites will continue to see the old interest among travellers like us.”
On his part, S Prabhakar, District Tourism Officer for Hyderabad and Rangareddy districts, hoped that the coming months which are tourism-specific will see increased crowds both in heritage and recreational sites. “We expect the decline in these initial months to be compensated in the coming months,” he said.