Tourism in Uttar Pradesh, an economic driver of growth – by Prateek Hira

It needs no further study to prove that tourism rescues and drives economy. It helps in solving many economic issues that often plague even good and robust economies such as employment generation, regional imbalances, lack of supplementary incomes, foreign exchange defects, balance of payments etc. Similarly, tourism also helps in solving many social and cultural issues even between the most diverse communities of the hosts and the guests.

Tourism began with ‘Teerthatan’ where people travelled for religious and spiritual purposes but it always supported economies as its natural benefit, and it is also is the most sustainable social form of tourism till date.

State of Uttar Pradesh has been in the forefront and since the last four years when the present government took over, it has been working for tourism by way of four-pronged strategy:-

  • Identification & Mapping
  • Detailed Planning
  • Time-bound Project Implementation
  • Quantifiable Monitoring

The mapping of tourism circuits of religious importance in the state was a huge step in this direction. Be it Ramayana, Krishna, Buddha, Jain or even the great Sufi saints, all were mapped strategically in Uttar Pradesh, with a primary objective to boost state’s economy through tourism in time-bound manner.

In 2018 Uttar Pradesh government came up with a very futuristic tourism policy that has attracted huge investments in the state and the state has actually become an example of planned tourism development for many other states of India to take clues from. The policy not only incentivises tourism projects but also pays huge attention to employment generation, participation of women in tourism and skilling youth for tourism and more. The policy is quite holistic in nature and deals with rural, agricultural, ecological, urban and adventure tourism in equal measure. As a result, tourism in Uttar Pradesh is emerging as an economic equalizer, spreading benefits in all regions of the state.

Forlorn regions of Bundelkhand and Poorvanchal have been for the first time brought in the mainstream under this government. How interesting is the fact that tourism is one activity that can happen even in the regions that may not be so rich in natural resources or have fertile land. Where many businesses fail, tourism may still flourish. Regions that were long ignored have finally found savior in this government through tourism.

In 2019 the state of Uttar Pradesh attracted the most domestic tourists sweeping 23.1% of tourist share of India, counting about 53,6 Cr domestic tourists, while international figures too were no less encouraging at about 47.5 Lacs. When international tourism came to a stand-still due to the pandemic, it is domestic tourism that has come to the rescue, and most of it is for religious purposes. Uttar Pradesh is one state where not only Gods dwelled, but Gods were actually born including Lord Rama and Lord Krishna and then there were great sages and preachers too, who took birth here or made it their residence, two names that very few would know are those of Swami Narayan of Akshardham fame and Maharishi Patanjali to whom the credit of Yoga and Indian traditional medicine system is attributed to.

Uttar Pradesh very intelligently realised the potential of religious travel in the state and how this could economically benefit the state. State that hosts Kumbh, the world’s largest congregation of human race, annual religious fairs like ‘Magh Mela’, ‘Ram Naumi’, ‘Shiv Raatri’ etc may only be seen as religious rituals but by many but then they huge economic activities and factually a lot of quantifiable employment is being generated through these.

Two mega projects that will be a game changer for tourism are Kashi Vishwanath Corridor in Varanasi and Ayodhya Development Project. Both these are examples of urban planning with tourism as a prime focus, proving that Uttar Pradesh government sees tourism as an economic driver.

Uttar Pradesh by virtue was always for tourism and the continued efforts of the present government, has brought it on the trajectory of growth taking it to the next level.

Prateek Hira (President & CEO – Tornos) writes about how the state of Uttar Pradesh is chartering on growth through religious tourism.