LUCKNOW: With a firm push to religious tourism, Uttar Pradesh has finally moved to the top-notch by drawing the highest number of domestic tourists in 2019, leaving Tamil Nadu behind. Last year the state was at number two.
According to Principal Secretary, Tourism and Culture, Mukesh Meshram, as many as 53.6 crore, domestic tourists visited UP in 2019. Meshram referred to the Indian Tourism Statistics (ITS), 2020. However, official countrywide official figures would be released by the year-end, said Meshram.
Notably, the Union Tourism ministry releases the annual statics of the total footfall of domestic and international tourists in the country.
In terms of international tourists, UP has secured the third position with a record footfall of nearly 47 lakh foreigners in the state last year.
Attributing the state’s performance to the focused approach of the state government to promote UP on the global tourist map, Meshram claimed that in UP, which had tremendous tourism potential having sites of religious, cultural and historical importance, the places of tourist interests were not only being
developed but equal attention was being paid to the upkeep of the existing tourist destinations. Much stress was being laid on the development of infrastructure at the places of tourist interests in the state, said the officer.
Citing the example of Ayodhya, Meshram claimed that despite the hostile conditions in the wake of the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, the temple town of Ayodhya had been attracting at least 6,000-10,000 tourists on a daily basis.
However, due to the pandemic, this year a reduced footfall was expected and the relevant figures would be released after December.
As per the sources in the tourism department, the inflow of tourists increased in Ayodhya after November when the Supreme Court of India delivered the historic verdict on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute. The footfall saw a further upswing after August 5 ‘Bhoomi Pujan’ attended by PM Narendra Modi, this year.
Moreover, the state government is also pushing the religious circuits including the Ramayan Circuit, Buddha circuit, Braj circuit, Mahabharat circuit, the Shaktipeeths, Kashi-Vishwanath Corridor, to draw tourists. Besides, the state also has several wildlife sanctuaries, added the sources.
UP government has allocated a fair chunk of the state budget for the infrastructural development of these circuits and destinations.
Special emphasis is being given on the up-gradation of tourist places falling in these circuits, Meshram added.