A Ray Of Hope For Agra’s Marble Traders As Taj Mahal Is Set To Reopen On September 21

Agra: Taj Mahal will be reopening for tourists from September 21 after being shut for nearly six months due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown. Guess whose eyes are lighting up in hope? It’s the marble traders of Agra whose business had come to a standstill because of the global pandemic.

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“The Rs 2,000-crore marble work business in Agra had suffered a setback even before the lockdown. There used to be Chinese tourists in large numbers, even in February, but visas were disallowed to Chinese people as corona was at its peak in that country during that phase,” the Hindustan Times quoted Agra Tourist Welfare Chamber president Prahlad Agarwal as saying.

“Besides, there used to be many tourists from Iran where the New Year is celebrated in the first quarter of the year but they too were in the grip of coronavirus and could not come to Agra this year and thus, the marble trade in Agra suffered,” added Agarwal, himself a prominent marble trader.

Though markets have opened, tourists in the city are few and far between. So business in marble emporiums is hardly encouraging.

“Road and rail transport is not at its optimum. With the end of weekend closures we expect domestic visitors from the city and in and around Delhi on weekend trips to Agra,” Agarwal opined.

“It is a tough track to revival as international flights are still not functioning. We need foreign tourists for handicraft trade, especially marble. Out of total of Rs 2,000 crore marble trade, Rs 700 crore is by way of export internationally and Rs 1,300 crore trade comes through emporiums which are still to open in Agra,” explained Agarwal.

Around 35,000 families in Agra rely on marble work, which is basically a hereditary art with the son following the footsteps of the father.

“However, this corona pandemic has caused erosion in this hereditary trend, and unable to find suitable returns, many artisans are deviating from their traditional source of income,” said Agarwal.

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