Ayodhya – The Epitome of Religious Tourism
With the commencement of Ayodhya's restructing into a tourism hub, Anil Bhandari, Chairman of AB Smart Concepts, suggests to build 'Tourism Parks' that will accomodate all tourist facilities and activities, which will be beneficial for all stake holders.
The Uttar Pradesh government and the Centre are working on a plan to develop Ayodhya as the finest, biggest centre of tourist, economic and religious activity. About 10,000 people are expected to be visiting the city daily.
The Yogi Adityanath Government has prepared a master plan for turning the ancient holy city of Ayodhya into a 'Smart City'. The city will be developed as a major pilgrimage centre under the Smart City Project.
Services of experienced and efficient professionals will be taken for the branding of Ayodhya. The developmental plan will be made in such a manner that the historical and religious heritage of Ayodhya is preserved. Places of historical and religious importance will be restored.
The Government aims to complete the city’s development by 2024. It plans to constitute an Ayodhya Tirtha Development Board to take this task further. Development work would be fast-tracked and funds will not be a constraint.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at the ground-breaking ceremony said the temple will also increase the grandeur of Ayodhya as well as change the economy of the region. “There will be new opportunities in this region. People will come here from the whole world for paying obeisance to Lord Ram and Mata Sita. So much will change here. The temple should be a modern symbol of India’s heritage,” he said.
Other plans for development will be construction of the world’s tallest statue of Lord Ram and development of the entire 84-mile perimeter area.
The 70-acre land available for the temple premises will also see extensive development, with a 360-degree theatre to screen documentaries on the life of Lord Ram, museums, photo galleries, worship halls, a laser Sound-and-Light show in a pond, solar lighting and an extensive green belt. Mega plan will take shape simultaneously with the construction of the temple and include an international Sri Ram Airport in Ayodhya. For the airport, 160 acres has been secured while the remaining 250 acres will be acquired soon.
In view of high footfall in the times to come, Ayodhya will have two bus stations and a modern railway station taking shape by 2022. Several multi-level parking areas, a network of widened highways and a two-km long elevated road will lead to the Janma-bhoomi, underground cabling and deployment of electric vehicles to ferry people are on the anvil. Plans are afoot to start a river cruise on the Saryu river which will provide a scenic view to tourists and devotees who come to Ayodhya.
I suggest that in view of the huge numbers of tourists expected to visit Ayodhya, the Ayodhya Development Authority should think about creating two Tourism Parks for Hotel accommodation: one near the main Temple and the other on the banks of the Saryu river.
The Tourism Parks should be integrated tourism complexes with prescribed carrying capacities of tourist facilities and activities. These ought to reflect the local culture, arts, crafts and the indigenous architecture instead of following the standard matchbox pattern of urban construction.
The Tourism Parks should have accommodation of all categories, that is, Budget, Dormitories, 3, 4 and 5-star Hotels and a Convention centre.
Other facilities may include Craft centres, Handicraft shops, Amusement For creation of Tourism Parks, the following steps need to be taken:
i. Conducting research & feasibility study.
ii. Carrying out SWOT analysis and estimating the Carrying Capacity.
iii. Preparing a sustainable tourism development plan for the next 15-20 years and
iv. Implementing the Project as per resources available.
v. The Ayodhya Tirtha Development Board / UP Tourism should develop basic infrastructure like roads, electricity, sewerage lines, water supply, transport and telecom.
vi. For setting up hotels and other facilities, the Ayodhya Tirtha Development Board / UP Tourism authority should lease land to private sector at reasonable rates; offer fiscal incentives like exemption from Income-Tax, State and local levies; duty-free import of capital equipment required for operation of the enterprises; and give incentives for early completion of projects.
Benefits to States:
* Higher inflow of investments.
* Increased employment opportunities.
* Easier to regulate environment.
* Focused tourism development.
* Income generation through lease/taxes.
Benefits to Investors:
* Lower capital investment as land will be on lease.
* Single-window clearance.
* Environmental controls.
* Fiscal benefits, tax holiday.
* Availability of integrated facilities at one place.
Benefits to Tourists:
* Availability of integrated facilities at one place.
* Availability of greater choice to tourists through a basket of services.
* Safety and security as area is made free of touts and beggars.
* Clean and regulated environment.
* Best in class experience.
What makes Tourism Parks attractive to all stakeholders is that they ensure focussed and coordinated tourism activity; give returns on investment; generate employment; increase foreign exchange earnings; lead to regional economic growth; and provide opportunities for exports.
I suggest that the Tourism Parks at Ayodhya should become a model for other religious places like Varanasi, Mathura, Vrindavan, Allahabad. There are many religious places which are well organised like Tirupati, Sh[U1]irdi Sai Dham, Vaishno Devi and Golden Temple. The best practices followed over there should be replicated in Ayodhya too.
Uttar Pradesh has lot of potential for tourism. It is high time that the Government of UP considers giving the ‘Industry’ status to Tourism and granting it all the benefits that other industries get in order to realise the full tourism potential.
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