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Abstract

A UNESCO world heritage site since 1983, the Taj Mahal, located in the city of Agra in India is an important contributor to tourism in India. In the year 2018 alone, approximately 280 million tourists visited the monument. However, the popularity of the site has several negative impacts such as yellowing of the structure, pollution and overcrowding which endangers this built cultural heritage. Due to this, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which is the national authority entrusted with managing heritage sites, has initiated steps to check overcrowding in the Taj Mahal. One of the widely adopted strategies is demarketing. This paper discusses the impact of different demarketing techniques implemented at Taj Mahal on the tourist guides operating in the monument. To do this, investigative research was conducted with a total of 17 tourist guides who offer their services at the Taj Mahal. A thematic analysis based on semi-structured in-depth interviews was carried out. The study found that though the tourist guides at Taj Mahal are not directly affected by the demarketing measures yet, they face the reverberations of these initiatives. They appreciate the strategies adopted by the authorities to curtail overcrowding and emphasise the need for conservation of the monument as well. The study suggests that demarketing measures not only help in conserving the monument but also prove beneficial for stakeholders. The findings of the study are helpful for policymakers, and monument leadership in taking such measures to control the excessive tourism activities without affecting local stakeholders’ income. As demarketing is a delicate measure, it should be considered carefully on a case-by-case basis, taking important stakeholders into confidence. Various destinations have applied demarketing strategies in western countries, however, in India, the Taj Mahal is the first monument which has decided to implement such techniques to curb excessive flows of tourists. This study provides a fresh perspective on the effectiveness of this strategy. Further, the concept of demarketing is novel to stakeholders in India in general and the Taj Mahal in particular.

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