‘Tourists must be provided with sufficient information’

The authorities appear to have woken up to the reality that the temple city lacks a flourishing tourism industry.

Collector Anshul Mishra, Mayor V.V. Rajan Chellappa and Commissioner of Police Sanjay Mathur were heard to say in unison on Thursday that the 2,500-year-old city with a rich culture and heritage had failed to showcase anything beyond the Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple and Thirumalai Nayak Palace.

Participating in a ceremony to flag off two air-conditioned vans, introduced by the Madurai Sightseeing Company for conducted tours, the Collector said that the district administration, municipal corporation and business establishments must come together to make Madurai one of the best tourist spots in South India. He said that tourists must be provided with sufficient information about the city and honest advice on sightseeing before letting them make their own choices.

He also sounded a word of caution when he said “guided tours should not become misguided tours.”

Mr. Chellappa said that there was a dearth of knowledgeable and recognised guides here.

Since autorickshaw drivers happened to be the ones who interact with tourists the most, the Corporation had already begun discussions on upgrading the facilities at the Maattuthavani and Periyar bus stands, he said. In his address, Mr. Mathur welcomed the idea of promoting conducted tours to lesser known but attractive destinations such as the Jain caverns in the Yanamalai hills, Keelakuyilkudi and Kongar Puliyangulam at an affordable cost of Rs. 400 for a half-day tour and Rs. 800 for a full-day tour. G. Vasudevan, past president, Travel Club-Madurai, urged the Collector to draw a long-term plan on developing tourism in the city and establish information kiosks at tourist spots. Travel Club president B.G. Musthafa urged the Police Commissioner to relax the new rules and permit tourists to carry their video and still cameras inside the Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple. He also wanted the Corporation to lay paver blocks on the heritage route between the Temple and Thirumalai Nayak Palace.

It would benefit tourists who want to explore the city life by foot, he said.

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