The resolution to reopen the Taj Mahal for vacationers from September 21 has given a ray of hope to Agra’s marble merchants after the Covid-9 pandemic had all however flattened their enterprise.
Adding to that hope is the optimism after the choice to elevate weekend market curbs within the metropolis.
“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 in February but visas were disallowed to Chinese tourists as corona was at its peak in China during that phase,” mentioned Prahlad Agarwal, a outstanding marble dealer of Agra and Agra Tourist Welfare Chamber president.
“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,” Agarwal acknowledged.
However, regardless of markets opening now, marble emporium house owners say enterprise remains to be tepid as there are few vacationers within the metropolis.
“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.
“Still 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,” mentioned Agarwal.
“The US government has issued an advisory against visiting India due to Covid-19 pandemic. The European nations pay heed to such advisories thus we have to work around this advisory if we hope to revive tourism,” he mentioned.
“The business through emporiums is still to pick up although exports are picking up at a steady pace with shipments moving. Things have improved in European nations and Christmas is only a few months away. Thus we can see improvement in exports but a major component of trade through emporiums is dependent upon the Taj opening and staying open,” he mentioned.
There are about 30,000 to 35,000 households counting on marble work in Agra. The ability of engaged on marble is usually hereditary with the son following the footsteps of the daddy.
“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,” mentioned Agarwal.