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Agra tourism industry takes bad hit after Mumbai attacks
Published on 3 Dec. 2008 1:06 AM IST
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Agra's tourism industry has been severely hit by the terror strikes in Mumbai that targetted 10 locations across the city, including two luxury hotels. A large number of foreign tourists have cancelled their trips and people visiting the Taj Mahal have nearly halved. While members of various travel agencies, hotels, restaurants and guides' associations marched and lit candles here Monday evening in memory of those who died in the attacks in Mumbai, tourism Industry leaders have expressed deep concern over reports of large scale postponement and cancellations of trips by foreigners to India. The month of December usually attracts the maximum number of foreign visitors to Agra. But this December, there has been a drastic dip in numbers, industry members said. Already, the arrivals have been affected with just around 1,500 foreigners visiting the Taj Mahal Monday as against 2,260 Nov 24. Budget hotels have been hit the most as night stays have reduced. "The fire in Oberoi and Taj in Mumbai has directly affected Agra," a hotelier said. Tourism Guild president Rajeev Narain fears there could be more than 3,500 cancellations this month. Five star hotel Jaypee Palace reported close to 450 cancellations. Narain said that city hotels are tightening security arrangements and installing required gadgets to meet any eventuality in the aftermath of the terror attacks in Mumbai that claimed 183 lives. "No cost is big enough to save a life and I hope things would get back to normalcy soon," Narain told IANS. "The worst is yet to come," said leading handicrafts exporter Abhinav Jain of Taj Ganj. "Buyers are not coming. The new element in the Mumbai attacks is the targeting of Israelis who were very fond of visiting India. No tourist would like to risk his life coming to what appears to be developing as a war zone," Jain said. Rakesh Chauhan, president of the Hotels and Restaurants Association of Agra, said the government security agencies must step up their security arrangements and send out a strong message that Agra is absolutely safe for tourists. "Tourism being a sensitive industry, the level of public awareness and also involvement in the joint fight against terrorism and constant vigil must be stepped up at all levels," he said. Meanwhile, big hotels in the city, on the advice of the police, have started verifying records relating to staff recruitments, entry into hotels has been restricted and all vehicles are being thoroughly checked, including vendors supplying vegetables and other items. There is also increased police deployment around the Taj Mahal.

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