New Delhi, Sep 29 (IANS) There is virtually no connectivity to most of India's heritage sites and this is affecting the tourist flow in a major way, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) said here Friday.
According to ASI Director General C. Babu Rajeev: 'There is virtually no connectivity - road, rail and air - to most of our important heritage sites. Leave apart 6,000 ASI protected monuments even the 21 world heritage sites are being neglected.
'Take into account Konark, Hampi or any other world heritage site, the situation is really bad. The situation is not only hindering foreign tourists to access these places but a huge of pool of domestic tourists are staying away.'
The director general was speaking on a heritage tourism symposium organised jointly by the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) and UNESCO.
Rajeev said if we cannot provide air connectivity, the government must construct at least four lane highways.
'All the world heritage sites should also be connected with each other. Since over 50 percent of all our tourists are cultural tourists, we cannot neglect it for long,' he suggested.
India has 6,000 ASI protected monuments including the 21 UNESCO World heritage sites and another 33,000 are under the supervision of state governments.
Joint secretary of tourism and culture Amitabh Kant also agreed with the ASI chief.
'The government is aware of the limitation of ASI but we are very much satisfied with the efforts of the heritage protecting body so far,' Kant said.
However, the secretary said currently over five percent of our GDP comes through tourism and efforts are on to make it 10 percent in the next five years.
Pointing out another problem in our monuments, Rajeev said: 'They lack basic minimum facilities like toilets and refreshment centres.'
'ASI has its economic limitations and cannot provide all these by itself. Both the government and the corporate sector must chip in together to improve infrastructure and manage tourists for a mutual benefit,' he added.
'I think the private sectors have failed tremendously in this regard,' he added.