Touts, thieves steal tourism department's thunder | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Touts, thieves steal tourism department's thunder

It is a city where thousand-year-old monuments are sitting pretty along with a world-class metro system and airport, where the enchanting alleys of Chandni Chowk exist along with the colonial charm of Connaught Place and where you can savour both Mughal cuisine and the best of street food. Sidhartha Roy reports.

delhi Updated: Oct 11, 2012 01:10 IST
Sidhartha Roy

It is a city where thousand-year-old monuments are sitting pretty along with a world-class metro system and airport, where the enchanting alleys of Chandni Chowk exist along with the colonial charm of Connaught Place and where you can savour both Mughal cuisine and the best of street food.

For most foreign tourists, however, Delhi is just a stopover before they travel to Jaipur or Agra. Delhi is also notorious for its touts who accost tourists as soon as they land in the city and get out of the airport. And then there are the pickpockets, beggars, tricksters and rapacious auto rickshaw and taxi drivers.

The 2010 Commonwealth Games, however, were expected be a catalyst for a change in the same way as the Olympics put Barcelona, Seoul and Mexico City firmly on the world's tourist map. The government and the police promised that Delhi would become a safer city for tourists and it did for the duration of the Games.

One lakh tourists were expected to come to Delhi for the Games but only a fraction of this number actually arrived.

"The Games hurt rather than help tourism in Delhi. It was actually a disaster for tourism," said Keyur Joshi, COO of travel portal makemytrip.com.

"The controversies surrounding the Games had a negative effect. The foreign media showed India as a mismanaged country with anarchy everywhere."

According to figures released by the union tourism ministry, foreign tourist arrivals during the month of September this year were 4.15 lakh as compared to 4.02 lakh in September 2011 and 3.70 lakh in September 2010.

The police had also formed a 'tourist police' some years ago but their number is too less to cater to the number of tourists.

The plan to provide licences to tour guides has also been on the backburner for some time now.

"We are looking into the issue of licences for tour guides. Whenever we are informed about touts, we ensure that an FIR is registered," said Manish Chatrath, Chairman, Delhi Tourism.