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Taj Mahal and Agra monuments should be encroachment-free, urge government officials

Indian tourism industry leaders make efforts to introduce plans to attract more visitors to Agra

Tabloid on Saturday

Tourism industry leaders Wednesday urged Minister of State for Tourism K. Chiranjeevi to reject a proposal to increase the rates of entrance tickets for the Taj Mahal.

“The recession in the Western world has hit Indian tourism. Any increase in the ticket rates will only affect adversely the number of visitors to Agra,” Rajiv Tiwari of the Federation of Travel Agents said.

In a memorandum, the tourism bodies of Agra drew attention to the “crowding of the Taj entrance by nearly 3,000 unauthorised photographers and touts who accost the visitors on the street and in the monument”.

This, they said, “threatens the security of the complex”.

The 17th century Taj Mahal, built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz, is India’s biggest tourist draw.

“We, at the Federation of Travel Associations Agra, recommend the reintroduction of allotment of licenses by ASI to professional photographers and license/approval of guides be done by a single government department.

“The entry of unapproved guides and photographers and touts in and around the Taj Mahal (should) be totally banned.”

The industry leaders also requested the minister to help get portions of the Agra Fort under army occupation to be opened to tourists.

Not just the Taj Mahal, other lesser known monuments in Agra also need to be made encroachment-free to attract more visitors, the statement said.

“This will also encourage tourists to spend more time in Agra.”