"The recession in the Western world has hit Indian tourism. Any increase in the ticket rates will only affect adversely the number of visitors to Agra," Rajiv Tiwari of the Federation of Travel Agents said.

In a memorandum, the tourism bodies of Agra drew attention to the crowding at the Taj entrance, by nearly 3,000 unauthorized photographers and tout who accost the visitors on the street and in the monument. This, they said, threatens the security of the complex.

The 17th century Taj Mahal, built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz, is India's biggest tourist draw.

"We, at the Federation of Travel Associations Agra, recommend the re-introduction of allotment of licenses by ASI to professional photographers and license/approval of guides be done by a single government department. The entry of unapproved guides and photographers and touts in and around the Taj Mahal should be totally banned," Rajiv said.

The industry leaders also requested the minister to help get portions of the Agra Fort under army occupation opened to tourists.

(Agencies)

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