Tribune News Service
Amritsar, January 19
Unlocking most of the activities notwithstanding, around 25 tourist guides continue to remain out of work due to non-arrival of international tourists in the city.
These guides have not got any financial support from the Centre or the state government. In compelling circumstances, they have been forced to look for other avenues.
Jaswinder Singh, a guide, said he used to earn around Rs 30,000 per month. “It was enough to take care of a small family. The Covid-19 induced lockdown brought everything to a halt while kitchen, power and medical expenses remain intact,” he said.
Anil Sharma, another guide, has a similar story to share. “I am now taking tuitions to meet monthly expenses. I am waiting for the international air travel restrictions to ease so that footfall of tourists increases in the city.”
Gurinder Singh Johal, a senior member of the Amritsar Guide Association, said, “Share of foreigners was around 10 per cent out of the total tourists visiting the holy city. These tourists used to be our main customer base as only five per cent of domestic tourists opt for guides.”
He said though tourists were coming to the holy city, but most of them were from northern India who don’t hire guides.
Johal added that domestic tourists coming from southern, eastern and western parts of the country prefer guided tours to learn Punjabi culture, cuisine and places.
The pandemic totally destroyed the tourism sector globally and the holy city was no exception. Lakhs of jobs were lost and numerous countries managed to safeguard interests of its citizens, but in India tourist guides had been left at the mercy of God, said Johal.
Guides rued that the state government and the Tourism Department did nothing to protect their interests.
They appealed the Centre and the state government to reopen the Jallianwala Bagh and commence Beating Retreat ceremony at Attari-Wagah border to increase flow of tourists.
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