Destination India

Taj Mahal increases ticket prices

Lilit Marcus, CNNUpdated 13th December 2018
(CNN) — India's most iconic attraction, the Taj Mahal, is about to become more difficult to visit.
Authorities in Agra, India have announced that as of this week, ticket prices for the famed UNESCO World Heritage Site have gone up not only for international tourists but for locals as well.
Admission has gone up from 50 rupees (70 cents) to 250 rupees ($3.50) for Indian citizens. Foreigners will now be charged 1100 rupees ($13.50), with an additional 200 rupees ($2.75) to visit the main mausoleum.
Children under the age of 15 can still visit for free, regardless of nationality.
The Indian government cited overtourism as the main reason for the ticket price increase. Currently, the Taj Mahal sees about seven million visitors per year, which has led to overcrowding and structural damage. Environmental damage from pollution is also an ongoing concern.
Another measure to prevent such overcrowding took place in March of this year, when a three-hour cap was put on the length of visits.
At the time, a representative for India's national tourism authority told CNN Travel that "[The cap] is being implemented so that the movement of visitors can be regulated. Day by day, the number of visitors are increasing."
The Taj Mahal, which was built in the 17th century by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a mausoleum for his late wife, is far from the only place coping with the effects of overtourism.
Cities like Barcelona, Dubrovnik and Venice have actively moved to restrict visitor numbers, with Barcelona's Mayor Ada Colau running on a successful platform of charging a "tourist tax" to visitors who come by cruise ship, depriving the city of hotel revenue.
Meanwhile, some destinations have tried to encourage "slow travel," essentially charging daily fees for a limited number of visitors or even, in some cases, requiring travelers to book certain packages in an effort to ensure tourism dollars benefit the local community.
Bhutan, which charges $250 per day for people who visit the country, has been held up as an example of how this model can work.
If India is still on your bucket list, don't let the new regulations at the Taj Mahal keep you from exploring more of what the country has to offer.
"There is so much more to see and discover in India beyond the Taj Mahal, particularly in the often overlooked southern part of the country," Darshika Jones, Intrepid Travel's Regional Director of North America, tells CNN Travel.
"Travelers still have the opportunity to see ancient ruins and stunning temples, but the region also offers unique cuisine, lush landscapes and beach towns, and [it] is the home of Ayurveda."