Not just Taj, get ready to explore other wonders in Uttar Pradesh

Not just Taj, get ready to explore other wonders in Uttar Pradesh

Uttar Pradesh tourism is no longer just about the world-famous Taj Mahal. The recent launch of Kushinagar international airport in the state, inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi this month, is expected to boost tourist inflow by 20%, as per the state government estimates.

The direct air connectivity of the new airport with South Asian countries is aimed at facilitating tourists arriving from Sri Lanka, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea among others to the international Buddhist pilgrimage centre where Gautam Buddha is said to have attained ‘mahaparinirvana’.

Adil Zaidi, partner and leader-economic development advisory at EY, said besides the Taj Mahotsav at Agra, various events such as Rangotsav at Barsana, Dev Deepawali at Varanasi and Deepotsav at Ayodhya have contributed to transforming the state’s image as an attractive tourist destination for both religious and leisure tourism.

“The state’s focus on adding new and varied experiences for tourists at key locations like Varanasi, Ayodhya, Agra, Mathura etc is contributing in not only increasing the tourist footfalls but also their duration of stay in the state,” he said.

The special impetus of the state government on the development of access-controlled expressways connecting tourist hot spots is creating induced demand for tourism.

While Covid threw tourism in complete disarray all over, tourism numbers in UP had been going up prior to the pandemic. As per the Uttar Pradesh tourism report, 540 million tourists visited the state in 2019, including over 4.7 million foreigners. In 2018, UP saw nearly 290 million tourists in all, including 3.78 million foreigners.

Pradeep Narain Singh, former member of the National Tourism Advisory Council of the ministry of tourism, who runs hotels in Varanasi, said the government is paying a lot more attention to tourism. “Domestic tourism has tremendously gone up after 2015. As Ayodhya and Prayagraj get connected by roads, it will become a hub for religious tourists,” he said.

Sunil C Gupta, chairman, northern region of Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO), said the one section where the government has put all its energy and resources is religious tourism, but beyond that also UP has huge potential.

Subhash Goyal, chairman of STIC Travel and Air Charter Group, is confident that UP can get its rightful place on the world map.

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