Hubli: Visit Bagalkot’s many historical landmarks and you will probably get the best guided tour possible as many of the 60 guides who operate here are postgraduates in history. With jobs hard to come by, these men are making a living guiding tourists around the district’s historical monuments, but the money they take home is a pittance.
Take Ashok Mayachari, 48, who earns barely Rs 200 a day as a guide at the world heritage site of Pattadkal. Finding it hard to make ends meet, he has opened a grocery store as well to take care of his family.
In fact, the money is so poor that several trained tour guides are now switching to other occupations. “Tourists visiting the historical sites are having to return without proper information as trained tour guides who have been neglected by the tourism department, are leaving.
The government should give them a monthly remuneration, a uniform and proper identity cards if it wants to retain them,” says Mr Mayachari, who is also president of the Karnataka State Tourism Guides’ Association.
He laments that despite the funds earmarked for development of the tourism industry, many historical places in the state still lack basic amenities, which keeps tourists away and badly hits the income of the guides.
Besides being highly qualified, many of the guides also receive training before they enter the field but are not paid by the government and depend solely on the voluntary contributions of the tourists for a living.
Unfortunately, tourists are not a year-long source of income as north Karnataka’s many attractions like the Badami caves, Aihole and the world heritage site of Pattadkal prove a draw only from October to March.
Also, the absence of basic amenities like proper roads and accommodation at many of the historical places puts off many tourists from visiting them and this leaves the guides jobless for most of the year.