There is much cheer and hope in the travel industry in India as finally the iconic India Taj Mahal and other monuments like the Agra Fort are set to open on September 21 after over 4 months of being shut down because of the COVID-19 coronavirus spread.
To start with, there will be 5,000 visitors allowed per day in the Taj Mahal and 3,000 in Agra Fort. Tickets will be obtainable through the Internet only, not by purchasing at the sites.
Sunil Gupta of the Travel Bureau and Arun Dang of the Grand Hotel lauded the much-delayed step saying that it may take some time to reach these initial numbers.
Gupta, who worked hard to get the authorities to remove the curbs, said that they appreciate the Standard Operating Procedures that accompany the decision to reopen.
Dang, who headed the apex Tourism Guild of Agrah with Gupta, estimated that the industry lost a whopping rs 2000 crores because of the monument closures. Over 250,000 people are involved in the travel and tourism industry, including photographers, shoe-shine boys, shop keepers, and, of course, the agents and hotels.
While most of the industry has been keen for an early opening, there are some who feel that security and safety are more important roles to play than those of commercial interests.
India has been associated with Taj Mahal the world over, and in the numbers game, it plays a huge role in tourism, travel, and the economy.
Several others places of interest to tourists were allowed to open earlier, which Agra escaped much to the regret of the industry. Dang points out that even the government was losing out in revenue.
No one believes that the tourists will rush to Agra in a hurry, but the hope is that in a few months, things should bounce back.