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Taj Mahotsava and its diminishing appeal among foreign tourists

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By Brij Khandelwal

Agra: The 10-day cultural festival adorning the city every year, the Taj Mahotsava, failed to attract foreign tourists this time. Industry stakeholders state the fair is not more than a local “mela-tamasha” (fun fair) now.

Apparently, the extravaganza is organized to attract foreign tourists but has in no way helped promote tourism in the city.

The number of foreign tourists has been falling each year and the local ambiance has hardly become “tourist-friendly,” said senior tourism industry leader Rajiv Tiwari, president of Paryatan Mitra, which formed a human chain to highlight the issue. 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 on Thursday, Agra divisional commissioner Pradip Bhatnagar stated he did not want crowds at the programs but tourists.

“In that case, he should have organized 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 calendar of events for the whole year drawn up,” said senior hotelier Surendra Sharma, founder-president of the Agra Hotels and Restaurants Association.

“There is a lack of planning and of understanding the dynamics of the tourism industry. Though the number of visitors to the Taj Mahotsava has been going up, the failure of the organizers to attract foreign tourists calls for a thorough review of strategies and efforts,” Sharma told reporters.

Some tourism industry leaders feel the Taj Mahotsav has made no impact on tourism and not helped in drawing foreigners. They say the original objectives to organize the fair were not being fulfilled. The fair had got too much localized like some kind of an extended village Haat.

The fair lacks its distinct appeal and thrust areas that could interest foreign visitors.

“The tourists fail to get a glimpse of the splendor and opulence of the Mughal era,” Rakesh Chauhan of the Agra Hotels and Restaurants Association told reporters, adding: “Year after year, you cannot go on repeating the same old features.”

“It should not remain a government show managed by indifferent bureaucrats. The industry too should share some responsibility,” Chauhan contended. (IANS) (Image source: brandife.com)

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Here are 4 Travel Destinations for Couples

Honeymoon destination worth considering

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Couples
Here are some travel destinations for couples seeking a romantic holiday. Pixabay

One can pick from a wide array of idyllic locales such as Greece, Switzerland, South Africa, and Italy. But how do you choose whether you want to snuggle up in front of a fire and relax to the sound of the tides on a hammock? Heres is a list of this seasons handpicked hotels for the discerning traveller. Couples seeking the ultimate romantic holiday can choose from a range of experiences and settings such as – hidden getaways, wellness retreats, culinary sojourns and adventure in the wilderness.

1. The SECLUDED RETREAT

Myconian Villa Collection, Greece

Nestled into the hillside above Elia Bay, the Mykonian ?Villa Collection is a unique luxury? resort? ?concept. ?This tranquil island escape offers impeccable service with quintessential Greek decor accented by bespoke wood-crafted furnishing and vibrant fabrics. The essence of Myconian beauty and lifestyle runs like a blue thread through a constellation of exceptionally spacious suites and rooms, while superb villas offer the discreet yet boundless opulence of a private house in Mykonos. Leaning into the mountain, the terraced villas have uninterrupted views of the Aegean Sea, culminating in a 360-degree panorama on the vast entertainment deck with its plush bar, epicurean restaurant and saltwater infinity pool.

Travellers can choose the luxurious privacy of the Lover’s Suite where special services such as in-room evening meals, couples’ massages on the scenic deck, and other such intimate indulgences can be experienced. This Cycladic Island combines a romantic ambience for newlyweds with sandy beaches, turquoise waters and a world-class nightlife scene for evenings that take guests into the morning hours.

Guests can book a longer stay for 3 nights or more, and save up to 30% on the Best Available Rates at this member hotel with the �Stay More Save More Offer’ from Preferred Hotels & Resorts. This offer is valid for bookings made from now till December 31, 2019; for stays through March 31, 2020.

Greece couples
A holiday in Greece provides secluded retreat to couples. Pixabay

2. The WELLNESS GETAWAY

The Capra, Switzerland

An intimate, alpine luxury spa lodge in a spectacular natural setting. The Capra is a car-free Swiss ski resort, also a favourite among winter sports connoisseurs. There is guaranteed high-quality snow, and authentic charm – combining the cosiness of a chalet with the comforts of a luxury hotel. Expansive suites in warm earthy tones have panoramic views of snow-frosted peaks, pristine valleys, and wide-open skies where guests can relax, recharge and reconnect with nature. The fire-lit lounge, well-appointed library, and deluxe spa are designed to soothe the senses. Even more indulgent is the wholesome farm-to-table cuisine offered at the hotel.

The Spa at the resort is run and managed by Peak Health. Their goal is not only to help guests to unwind, but to develop personal strategies and holistic approach to resetting health based on the latest scientific research by a team of wellness experts from around the globe. The Spa offers a fully immersive retreat programme that helps guests transform their lifestyle, it also consists of indoor and outdoor hydrotherapy pools, salt-therapy rooms, saunas, fully equipped gym, yoga studio, and a varied selection of intensive treatments for the mind and body.

3. ADVENTURE ESCAPE

Gondwana Game Reserve, South Africa

Less than a four-hour drive from Cape Town International Airport, along South Africa’s scenic Garden Route, the 11,000-hectare Private Game Park offers a distinctive and luxurious safari destination with free-roaming Big 5 safari animals (lion, buffalo, elephant, rhino, and leopard). Gondwana Game Reserve is known for its well-appointed safari lodge accommodation, awe-inspiring views, attentive service, exquisite South African cuisine, and an array of adventure-linked activities including game drives, birdwatching, fynbos walks, mountain biking, hiking trails and more. Luxury accommodation is offered in Kwena Lodge, a modern twist on the traditional Khoi-San dwelling. The 14 open-plan suites are nestled into the breath-taking natural surroundings with 180-degree views, skylights for star gazing, fireplaces and deep baths.

Gondwana Game Reserve is an ideal African honeymoon destination for adventure enthusiasts. It is a picture-perfect retreat where guests can create lasting memories on their romantic vacation, from immersing themselves in the spectacular scenery, enjoying private dining experiences, to the reinvigorating Africology massages at the spa and more.

Italy couples
Italy is a very romantic travel place for couples. Pixabay

4. CULINARY SOJOURNS

Il Castelfalfi, Italy

Nestled amid the sun-kissed Tuscan hills, surrounded by vineyards, centuries-old olive trees and period farmhouses, Il Castelfalfi is the perfect getaway to plan a romantic escape. Sample traditional ingredients and flavours with a cooking class at Rosso Toscano Cooking school and visit the local vineyards to discover the favourite wines. Once set in a village, the grounds now surrounding the resort are filled with charming shops and restaurants sure to transport travellers to a different era.

At the gourmet restaurant – La Rocca di Castelfalfi, top chef Michele Rinaldi reinterprets traditional cuisine for guests to savour. Located within the medieval castle brought back to life after a meticulous restoration, the restaurant is a landmark in the village, where guests enjoy the authentic taste of

Also Read- Top 5 Tourist Places in South Korea’s Incheon

The above-listed hotels are members of Preferred Hotels & Resorts – Legend Collection. Guests can book a longer stay for 3 nights or more, and save up to 30% on the Best Available Rates at this member hotel with the �Stay More Save More Offer’ from Preferred Hotels & Resorts. This offer is valid for bookings made from now till December 31, 2019; for stays through March 31, 2020. (IANS)