Varanasi’s Fake Guides Brew Trouble for Foreign Tourists

In recent days, the number of attacks on foreign tourists in Varanasi have increased.

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Varanasi, a city of faith. Tourists from across the world visit this city for its temples, ghats and the religious significance that this place holds. But fake tourist guides have been a source of major trouble.

In recent days, the number of attacks on foreign tourists have increased in Varanasi. They have become an easy target for the hordes of fake guides roaming across the city. The fake guides befriend these unsuspecting tourists, and then rob them.

Boat rowers, local ‘pandas’ or even students have posed as guides to beguile tourists. Despite their inarticulate English, they manage to trap and harass the unsuspecting foreigner, and then flee with money or loot. A Japanese couple was recently drugged and robbed by a group of fake guides.

According to the data released by Department of Tourism, 3 lakh foreign tourists visit Varanasi every year. To assist these tourists, 250 guides have been provided licenses. As you can see, the guide to tourist ratio is very low.

The fake guides take full advantage of this situation. For the time being, the Department of Tourism has stopped issuing new licenses to the guides.

Fake guides have created problems for the licensed guides as well. The Quint spoke to a licensed guide Pulkit Gupta who had come to the ghats along with a group of foreign tourists.

90% of the people here call themselves guides. They will tell you the incorrect version of history. All the lodges near the ghats have started their own travel agency. No one has any clue about the tours organised by them. The tourist police do not speak proper English. Hence, they are also shy of speaking to tourists. Due to this confusion, everyone is seen with suspicion.
Pulkit Gupta, Guide

On the other hand, the tourists are also scared and wary of the situation. They enjoy visiting Varanasi but are fed up with the constant bickering of the fake guides.

They were putting a lot of pressure to engage with them so they can make money. We kept telling them that we don’t want a guide. We just want to roam around. But they kept on insisting. Sometimes, we get fed up with that because it’s too much pressure.
Peter, Canadian Tourist

Local restaurant owners are also unhappy with the situation. Some of them said it was unfortunate that such incidents are taking place even in the Prime Minister’s constituency.

Despite this being Mod’s constituency, if there is this level of mismanagement, then nothing could be more unfortunate than that.
Anil Singh, Restaurant Owner

Is ‘Atithi Devo Bhavah’ a mere slogan for some people in India?

Producer: Anubhav Mishra
Video Editors: Mohd Irshad Alam and Vivek Gupta

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