Agra is one of the busiest tourist cities in the country, with three world heritage monuments located in the city, including the famous Taj Mahal.
Every year, more than 80 lakh tourists visit the Taj Mahal and ticket sales here are worth Rs 100 crores. Despite the presence of several monuments, the development of Agra lags far behind other cities of similar stature across the world.
People employed in the tourism industry in Agra are feeling the pinch due to loss of business as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic over the past two years. They said neither the state government nor the Center had taken action to address the issues impacting the city’s development.
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With Assembly elections due to start on February 10 in Uttar Pradesh, leaders of all political parties are currently visiting or staying in Agra, making great promises for the development of tourism, footwear and other industries in the city. These are the same promises that have been part of every party’s election manifesto for the past 20 years, but have never been kept.
Federation of Travel Associations chairman Rajiv Tiwari told India Today that Agra’s tourism industry staged a two-wheeler rally during the 1999 Lok Sabha elections, backing a candidate.
“In the 2002 assembly polls, all tourism organizations called the assembly candidates on stage to explain ‘Aapko Vote Kyun Dein’ (Why should I vote for you). In this program, a dialogue was took place with all the candidates and their written assurances were taken for the fulfillment of the promises they made.However, since 2002, several such programs have taken place, but each time the candidates only make empty promises , and none of them are held,” Mehra said.
Agra Tourism Welfare Chamber Chairman Prahalad Agarwal said not only candidates but even top political leaders have issued manifestos listing the work their party will do for the city’s development. they are elected to form the state government.
“Tourist overnight stay, adventure tourism, international stadium, airport, etc., are several demands that have always featured in party election manifestos but have never been met,” he said.
In this context, Agra Approved Guide Association President Shamshuddin told India Today that over the years people employed in the tourism industry have realized that no politician is willing to hold his promises after being elected to power.
Agra Tourism Guild Deputy Chairman Rajiv Saxena said: “It’s been 20 years and we have seen politicians failing to deliver on their promises. No promises have been kept to date. The tourism industry has decided to make politicians understand what they stand to lose. if they keep going back on their promises.”
Echoing similar sentiments, Hotel and Restaurant Association President Rakesh Chauhan said: “We’ve been asking candidates for 20 years why we should vote for them. Every time they make empty promises with no intention of We have letters signed by the candidates as proof of these promises.
Hindustani Biradari Deputy Chairman Vishal Sharma said that with the decrease in daily Covid-19 cases, the number of tourists coming to Agra has started to rise again. Yesterday, 14,235 tourists visited the Taj Mahal.
Sharma said the tourism industry directly employs around 1,50,000 people.
“There are more than 35,000 artisans, 550 hoteliers, more than 2,100 tourist guides, more than 400 emporiums and more than 700 restaurateurs linked to this activity. The tourism industry has faced a terrible crisis over the past two last years due to the pandemic. Now it is high time that the candidates showed a serious commitment to keep the promises they made, otherwise they should not expect the industry to tourism votes for them,” he added.
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