“The number of foreign tourists has been falling each year and the local ambience has hardly become tourist-friendly", said senior tourism industry leader Rajiv Tiwari, president of Paryatan Mitra, which formed a human chain to highlight the issues.  

Tiwari said there was a clear disconnect between government policies, perceptions and the requirements of the tourism industry.

At a press conference ahead of the Taj Mahotsava, which began yesterday, Agra divisional commissioner Pradip Bhatnagar stated he did not want crowds at the programmes but tourists.

"In that case, he should have organised the festival in a five-star hotel and not at the fair ground and at half-a-dozen spots in the city", retorted an angry Ved Prakash, a guide.

"So many events in one month, starting with the Taj Marathon, the Taj Car race, the star-studded Taj Mahotsava, the golf tournament (a part of the festival), the Taj Literature Festival and so on. Instead of just one month, these activities should have been phased out and a calender of events for the whole year drawn up", said senior hotelier Surendra Sharma, founder-president of the Agra Hotels and Restaurants Association.

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