You can finally skip the queue at the Taj Mahal

Image: AP Photo/R S Iyer
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Tourists visiting the Taj Mahal or Red Fort will now no longer need to wait in long lines for tickets.

On May 29, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) said it had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with ticketing website BookMyShow and Yatra.com, an online travel agency, to allow tourists to book tickets online for 141 monuments, museums, and historic sites. The ASI is the Indian culture ministry’s arm tasked with maintaining and managing the country’s national museums and heritage sites.

The e-ticketing programme is being presented as a way to boost tourism in keeping with the government’s Digital India initiative, launched in 2015 to promote e-governance. Countries such as France, Italy, the UK, and the US allow tourists to book tickets in advance online.

In 2016, over 42 million people visited the 115 centrally protected ticketed monuments across India, according to data from the ministry of tourism (pdf). Domestic tourists accounted for the vast majority, with just 2.4 million visitors coming from abroad.

The Taj, India’s most popular monument, recorded around 4.5 million visitors, both foreign and domestic, in 2016.

India’s 10 most popular monuments by tourist visits in 2016:

(Data: Ministry of tourism)

E-ticketing and the ability to enter with mobile tickets are likely to make things easier.

But the bigger problems associated with India’s heritage sites are still a concern. Despite its rich history, many of India’s monuments are in bad shape, the result of years of neglect and a lack of adequate funding. This includes the Taj Mahal itself.

The fact remains that India’s monuments need all the help they can get. Ticketing may soon meet international standards, but all other aspects of the tourist experience still have a long way to go.