Agra readies to lure more tourists, with better amenities
If the ongoing preparations are anything to go by, Agra is all set to welcome the tourist season, which begins on Sep 1, with a high spirit. This city on the banks of the river Yamuna has seen launch of luxury buses, upgradation of monuments and recruitment of English speaking cops, to make it a better haven for the tourists. According to an IANS report, all these measures are expected to improve the appeal of the city of Taj Mahal.
The latest preparations at the makeover of Agra comes in the wake of figures from the Ministry of Tourism for the financial year ended March 31, 2011, catapult Agra at the top position among tourist destinations in India. According to reliable sources, Taj Mahal earned around Rs 20 crore (USD 4.5 million) from the sale of entrance tickets alone. Besides, figures from the Archaeological Survey of India show that Taj Mahal had attracted 4.18 million Indian tourists and 624,000 foreign travellers, in 2010.
Compared to other monuments in Agra circle, this ‘crown of buildings’ was the biggest crowd puller.
The latest makeover activities are taken up by the district authorities, in cooperation with the Uttar Pradesh Tourism Department. They have finalised a number of schemes that would broadbase facilities for the visitors.
Once the new initiatives are in place, visitors will be able to board luxurious air-conditioned marco polo buses, for a tour of the city, from the Agra Cantt railway station. “There will be four buses that will take the tourists to Fatehpur Sikri, Sikandra, Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort,” says Neeraj Saxena, regional manager of the state roadways. “Buses will have women conductors and a woman constable. Apart, tourist guides and brochures would be provided in the buses, for convenience. LCD screens will be placed in the buses to provide relevant information about the monuments,” he adds.
Government departments have been asked to coordinate and provide amenities for tourists and streamline infrastructure, to attract tourists to major destinations. Facilities at Bateshwar Ghats are being upgraded and better connectivity will be provided. Recently, the Yamuna Aarti, like in Haridwar and Varanasi, was started at Bateshwar, 70 kilometres from the city. Besides, the state tourism department is now making every effort to enable the tourists to enjoy the grandeur of the heritage city, on foot.
In another move, Aseem Arun, deputy inspector general, has unveiled a package of police reforms that will not only increase the visibility of cops, but also quicken their response. Cops on sleek bikes, speaking flawless English, with the latest gadgetry will hopefully be seen around monuments, to instill a sense of confidence in tourists.
Funds from entrance tickets to various monuments collected by the Agra Development Authority would be used to give a makeover, to the police image. The Tourist Thana on Fatehabad road, a special police station for registering tourists’ complaints, will also get a new look.