AGRA: Unlike last year where tourists/locals were charged over Rs 10,000 for one-hour aerial ride during the first Taj Balloon festival here, the UP tourism department has decided to waive all charges for them this time around for the six-day fair starting November 25.
The department has planned to conduct lucky draw every day and choose 40 recipients who will get free ride, reports The Times of India.
A fixed quota for foreign tourists, five out of 40, has also been kept aside.
However, for this initiative, UP tourism has paid around Rs 2 crore to the private company, Sky Waltz, which will organize the flights.
Deputy director tourism Dinesh Kumar said, “A total of 16 hot air balloons with highly experienced pilots and crew from India and around the world are participating in it. The festival includes both free flights and tethered flights. A total of 12 countries are participating. There will be balloonists from the US, UK, Spain, Germany, UAE and India among others piloting the flights.”
Kumar added that locals/tourists would have to fill a form and submit at the tourism office. Lucky draw would be conducted every evening a day before the flights and winners would be informed to be present at the take-off site.
Samit Garg, founder and CEO of Sky Waltz, said, “This year the festival is being organized at a much grander scale. The number of days has been doubled from three to six days this year. The visibility is also much better this time around, so tourists will have better view of the Taj Mahal. Last year visibility was an issue due to heavy smog.”