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Is the Taj really losing its charm?

Is the Taj really losing its charm?

Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Akhilesh Yadav is spending quite a lot of money in branding his state safe but he probably doesn’t know that the foreign tourists are moving away by the hordes from the city that houses the world famous Taj Mahal, Agra. The reason being the tout culture of the place that has an expertise in cheating and duping foreigners and extorting money. While earlier, foreign tourists would stay at the place for a day or two, now they prefer to return to Delhi after touring the Taj city for a day.

A local intelligence unit reports that 53,113 foreigners stayed for more than one day in Agra between April and July in 2015 compared to 78,202 during the corresponding period in 2014. The authorities admitted that the prevailing tout culture and generally shoddy tourism infrastructure are to blame.

Further, a comparison of Long Island University (LIU) figures with the Archaeological Survey of India's (ASI) revealed that, out of 3.02 lakh foreigners who visited the Taj between January and May this year, 1.6 lakh (53%) left the city the same day. In 2014, out of 3.23 lakh tourists who saw the monument during the same period, 1.36 lakh (42%) went back on the same day.

Occupancy in hotels used to be very high during the months of October to December, which is deemed to be the season of visiting the Taj. However, in November 2014, the figures stood at just 14,079 compared to 47,606 during the same month in 2013.

Also Read: Uploading Selfies at the Taj Mahal would never be a trouble again

The UP tourism department had alleged that tickets for Taj were resold and foreign tourist numbers has gone up by 28%. However, ASI responsible for managing the Taj Mahal has claimed that, in 2014, there has been 4.5% dip in 2013 figures. This highly contradicts UP tourism’s claim and puts a doubts the assessment of UP tourism.

Rajiv Tiwari, president, Federation of Travel Associations of Agra, said, "Most foreign tourists come here with a negative image of locals. They are advised by travel agents not to interact with the locals, as they may be duped." Tiwari also blamed the Yamuna Expressway for tourists not staying in Agra. Prahalad Agarwal, president, Agra Tourist Welfare Chamber, said, "There has been negligible improvement as far as city infrastructure is concerned. There is no air connectivity. Tourists first land in Delhi and take rail or road route to come here. However, the access is not very easy once they enter Agra."

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