Thursday, June 23, 2011

Audio Guide tour for visitors to Mysore Zoo fails to take-off

Only 374 Audio Guide coupons were sold since it launch of two months ago; Tourists complain its expensive
Introduced for the first time with the intention of providing details and interesting tidbits to tourists visiting Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens, about the various animals and birds housed in cages, an Audio Guide was launched on April 22 with much fanfare.

The technology provided by a company named Boltell offers pre-recorded commentaries both in Kannada and English to visitors opting for this virtual guided tour after payment of a fee. But only complaints are being heard from visitors who opted to avail this Audio Guide facility.

Though 8,50,759 tourists have visited zoo between April and June 19, 2011 only 374 visitors (less than 0.5%) have purchased coupons for the Audio Guide. Of the 374 coupons that were sold, only 3 were coupons of Rs 20 and the remaining for Rs 10.

First a visitor has to purchase the Coupon by paying Rs 10 for 30 minutes and Rs 20 for one hour. The services should be used within six hours of activation.

Later they should dial the landline number provided in the coupon to get connection to the audio Guide and should enter the coupon code given overleaf. When it is promoted, visitors should enter the enclosure ID of which animal or bird they need by the ID number provided in front of the particular enclosure and listen to a commentary which gives details of that particular animal.

But the catch is that the tourist has to pay for the call-charges as applicable for calling a landline number which will be deducted from his account. Though the call charges differ from one service provider to another, sometimes it can be as expensive as Rs 1 per minute. Additional charges are also deducted from their account as it is a Valued Added Service by the service provider.

Most tourists who purchase the coupons are not aware of the incurring call costs and are shocked after using the facility. They hope that they can get complete information from purchasing the coupon, but they express shock when the amount gets deducted from their account.

Lack of proper information is not provided to the tourists at the time of purchasing the coupons is the main reason. Poor people find difficult to bear the ticket charge itself which is Rs 40 for elders and Rs 20 for children. Apart from this when they got connection without the knowledge of it, it bears them extra. If they get connection of Rs 20 coupon the cost will be around Rs 50 to Rs 60.

While audio recordings of some animals lasts upto 15 minutes most of them are of 10 minutes duration. But when one purchases a coupon of Rs 10 he can listen to information lasting only for 30 minutes, which will be exhausted by the time he listens to atmost 3 or 4 animals. If he wants to know about other animals he has to purchase another coupon.

Many were of the opinion that getting information on the internet was quite cheaper than spending so much money for mobile calls.

Speaking to Express, Rohini from Bangalore said that `without being aware of call charges I activated Audio Guide and lost around Rs 29. The officials should provide correct information for the tourists before selling the coupons.'

`The Audio Guide facility provides knowledge about various animals at Zoo, but the charges are very expensive and are not affordable by the common man interested to know more about the Zoo. Instead of Audio Guide if Zoo authorities made arrangements to provide a running commentary near every enclosure, it will be quite cheaper and more helpful,' says visitor Nasim, an Enginnering Student from Delhi.

`By purchasing a coupon for Rs 10, it was possible for me to hear only of 2 animals and the line got disconnected after some time. My bill got deducted for Rs 27. Its definitely not people-friendly,' says Dhanajay Sheikh a tourist.

------------- Box --------------

Number of Visitors
April, 2011 - 2,89,324
May, 2011 - 4,37,159
June 19, 2011 - 1,24,276

Number of activation of audio guide:
In April 45 numbers
In May 252 numbers
In June 77 numbers
In which only 3 cards of Rs 20 has been sold so far.

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