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The tourism industry in Agra is up in arms with reports of the Ministry of Tourism (MoT), Government of India contemplating a hike in Taj Mahal entry tickets. The Ministry is believed to be mulling the option of increasing the Archaeological Survey of India’s (ASI) ticket price from Rs 10 to Rs 40 for Indian nationals, and from Rs 250 to Rs 500 for foreigners, which would come to Rs 50 and Rs 1,000, respectively after taxes towards Agra Development Authority (ADA). Apart from the hike, the Ministry is planning to restrict the duration of stay inside the monument to two hours for tourists.

Sources in ASI, which looks after the monument, however, denied any hike in ticket prices. However, they confirmed that talks are on to fix the stay duration. Tourism leaders on the other hand said they would fight such a move as this would adversely affect the industry, which is already facing a slump due with the number of tourists visiting Agra coming down over the last three years. Travel organisation members said they would meet Dr Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State with Independent Charge for Tourism and Culture and Minister for State for Civil Aviation, Government of India, and apprise him of the situation.

Rajiv Tiwari, President, Federation of Travel Agents of India, said, “This is not the time to raise the fee. First they should improve the infrastructure and then think of increasing the fee. The decision to limit the stay to two hours is fine and it may help in increasing the revenue, as many tourists might like to visit the monument twice. So far, we have been fighting the Agra Development Authority that wanted to increase the taxes on tickets, and now the Ministry wants the same.”