Tourists avoid Taj Mahal
TRAVEL WARNING: WAVE OF DEADLY ANTI-GOVERNMENT PROTESTS ROCK INDIA’S CITIES
Cancellations during festive season have dampened business sentiment.
India’s tourism industry has been hit by a wave of violent anti-government protests against a new citizenship law that have rocked several cities this month, with at least seven countries issuing travel warnings.
At least 25 people have been killed in clashes between police and protesters, and demonstrations against the law continue.
Officials estimate 200 000 domestic and international tourists cancelled or postponed their trip to the Taj Mahal in the past two weeks, one of the world’s most popular tourist attractions.
“There has been a 60% decline in visitor footfalls in December this year,” said Dinesh Kumar, a police inspector overseeing a special tourist police station near the Taj Mahal.
“Indian and foreign tourists
The Taj Mahal, situated in the town of Agra, attracts over 6.5 million tourists every year, generating nearly $14 million (about R196 million) annually from entrance fees. A foreign tourist pays 1 100 rupees (about R210) to enter the grounds, although nationals from neighbouring countries get a discount.
Managers in luxury hotels and guest houses around the Taj Mahal said last minute cancellations during the festive season have dampened business sentiment at a time when the country’s economic growth has slowed to 4.5%.
In a bid to clamp down on violence and unrest, authorities have suspended mobile internet services in Agra.
“Blocking the internet has affected travel and tourism in Agra by about 50-60%,” said Sandeep Arora, president of the Agra Tourism Development Foundation that groups over 250 tour operators, hotels and guides.
The US, Britain, Russia, Israel, Singapore, Canada and Taiwan have issued travel advisories asking their citizens to either refrain from visiting or to exercise caution when visiting regions embroiled in India’s protests.