In a letter to the Union Ministry of Tourism, a 450-strong tour guides association in Agra has alleged that they are being forced to take tourists, especially foreigners, to only designated emporiums and shops in Agra with owners being in a tacit understanding with tour operators reports Times of India.
They added that the tour operators had formed a cartel and deny them work if they take the groups to some other shops. “A recent trend has begun in the city, whereby a large number of travel agents enter into a contract for a hefty sum, amounting to millions, with the city’s well-known emporiums as a result of which guides and escorts are obligated to visit these contracted shops exclusively, or else they are refused assignments,” the letter stated.
Talking to TOI, Sanjay Sharma, the association’s president said, “The modus operandi is very simple. When emporiums have paid a hefty amount to travel agents, they will fleece tourists in order to get back their money.”
Another guide told the paper that the foreign tourists were often being charged 10-15 times more than the original price. The association has asked the tourism ministry to conduct an investigation into this nexus and cancel licenses of the emporiums and travel agencies involved. The letter also pointed out illegal touts operating in Agra. “Touts are a major problem. There are thousands of such middlemen who are ripping off gullible foreign tourists,” the letter said.