Each ASI heritage site should be a profit centre by generating more revenues from ticketing, souvenir shops, food and beverage outlets
The Centre and state governments should leverage India’s massive network of heritage sites as a tool for development and employment generation by providing improved services to domestic and international tourists through public-private-partnership, a NITI Aayog report suggested. It said that each Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) site should be a profit centre. “Food and beverage revenues are largely not leveraged to the extent possible, sites with already heavy footfall loose a massive opportunity. Lease,rental and revenue sharing models are used globally in this respect that can be mirrored,” noted the Working Group report on Improving Heritage Management in India.
In addition to entry fee to monument, revenue is also generated through granting permissions for film shooting, culture events, sale of publications, grass auction, fruit auction, sale of photographs, etc. There is a proposal to bring more centrally protected monuments under the category of ticketed monument.
“Economic sustainability is a key challenge in conservation and development of heritage sites for tourist/visitor interest, state funding can get it going, but it is critical that a self sustaining economic cycle kicks in, this is especially true for the major protected monuments, and these have potential to generate revenue that can help conserve, protect and develop the others,” it said. Currently, ASI has no surplus revenue, and it depends on the annual budget allocation of about Rs 1,000 crore.
With 35 world heritage sites, 10 bio-geographical zones and 26 biotic provinces, India has significant potential to increase the number of tourist arrivals. The sector is an important contributor to national income. In 2017-18, India’s travel and tourism sector accounted for foreign exchange earnings of $22.92 billion.
The Niti Aayog report suggested that International Heritage Circuits should be developed jointly with other countries, specially where shared heritage is evident, such as the Buddhist circuit and Hinduism circuit with South Asian and Southeast Asian countries.
Among other recommendations, the working group suggested restructuring of ASI, creating a National Archaeological Database, defining bye-laws for prohibited and regulated areas around monuments, support to state governments and other organisations such as temple trusts to boost the tourism sector.