The way forward: Promotion of domestic tourism

Mukesh Kumar Meshram (IAS), Principal Secretary, Tourism & Culture and Director General, Tourism, Government of Uttar Pradesh talks about revival of pilgrim tourism and opportunities emerging for industry stakeholders

It is not just the most populous state in India, it is bigger than most nations, given its size and population. Little wonder then that Uttar Pradesh has so much to offer, be it pilgrimage, wildlife, education, industry, heritage or cultural tourism. Add to the basket of offerings a few more, like its unique range of cuisines which are as diverse as its geography. Then there is textiles, arts, crafts, dance, drama and a legacy of musicians which add to the exquisiteness of tourism offerings. The state, under the leadership of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, has identified the potential of tourism and taken many initiatives to boost tourism. 

Excerpts from an interview with Mukesh Kumar Meshram (IAS), Principal Secretary, Tourism & Culture and Director General, Tourism, Government of Uttar Pradesh, who throws light on various initiatives and plans to make UP a tourism hub.

Initiatives to help UP become a tourism hub

Numerous destinations have been developed under the state and Central government initiatives like PRASAD and Swadesh Darshan to turn Uttar Pradesh into a tourism hub and a leader in promoting sustainable and inclusive development. Other initiatives include:

 Pro-Poor Tourism Development Project aims at ameliorating living standards, creating job opportunities and promoting traditional but thriving local enterprises among poor communities and other stakeholders by inhabiting in identified intervention areas of Agra, Braj, Sarnath and Kushinagar. 

 Under Chief Minister Tourism Promotion Scheme, select tourist places are being developed by Vidhan Sabha members from different assembly constituencies along with Department of Tourism.

 As part of public and private sector collaboration to train local young community in Skill Development, over 1,300 young people are being trained under the Local Guide Training Programme. 

Growth and performance of tourism in last five years 

Under the Chief Minister Tourism Promotion Scheme, the foundation stone of schemes worth Rs 13,743.30 lakh were laid on March 19, 2021. According to India Tourism Statistics 2020, UP was ranked first with a share of 23.1 per cent travellers and 53.58 crore domestic tourists, third with a share of 15.1 per cent travellers and 47.45 lakh foreign tourists in terms of international tourist arrivals. UP Tourism has witnessed the highest CAGR across states with respect to the growth of foreign tourists and domestic tourists till 2020. 

New tourism products and services 

 MoU between UPSTDC and UPSRTC for operation of newly developed Ayodhya Bus Stand.

 MoU between Inland Waterways Authority of India and UP Tourism.

 2 RO pax vessels to operate on National Waterway 1 on the PPP mode. 

 Ropeway Project at Ashtbhuja and Kali Khoh, Mirzapur has been completed.

 Ropeway Project at Barsana (Mathura) is under progress.

 Ropeway Project, Chitrakoot is operational since September 14, 2019.

 Alaknanda Cruise, Varanasi is operational from Assi Ghat to Raj Ghat as also a day-long cruise from Varanasi to Chunar Fort and back with breakfast, lunch and high-tea on board with live music.

 has a circuit of prominent temples in Varanasi including some unexplored ones.

 A series of webinars on Being Tourism Ready were organised on post-pandemic recovery research, contributions from industry academia and government. Eminent speakers and dignitaries shared their perspectives on the road ahead.

Revival of pilgrim tourism and opportunities for industry stakeholders

To revive the tourism and hospitality industry from the impact of Covid19, promotion of domestic tourism is being seen as the way forward as short-term and medium-term strategies. To enhance pilgrims’ experience, state government has been undertaking development work. During the period of restrictions, the state introduced digital interventions like Pawan Path wherein a 360-degree virtual tour could be experienced from 100-plus prominent and unexplored temples in Varanasi. Spiritual destinations visited by domestic tourists are being promoted and apart from Deepotsav, festivals like Dev Deepawali, Gorakhpur Mahotsav, Magh Mela, Mahashivratri Mahotsav, Rangotsav and Shri Krishnaotsav are being celebrated and promoted. The state has witnessed a strong revival of the industry as these events increased tourist footfall and gave an opportunity for industry stakeholders to revive themselves. 

Noida International Airport

During the inauguration of the Noida International Airport at Jewar, PM Modi mentioned: ‘Tourism of landlocked states like UP will benefit from Noida International Airport. Pilgrims will be able to travel to temples and shrines in UP easily.’ The airport is envisioned to target more than a million footfalls annually. Being connected to Agra-Lucknow Expressway, it shall enhance tourism footfalls for nearby destinations like Mathura and Agra. The development of this airport shall make UP the only state with five international airports and the largest one in Asia. As destination development, circuit development and promotion of lesser-known tourism destinations is underway, developed areas shall become more accessible and lead to higher tourist footfalls. Once Noida International Airport is developed, it will impact the tourism scenario and will boost and ease tourist arrival. It will also lead to an increase in tourism revenues, ease of travel for devotees visiting spiritual destinations and the proposed film city.

Strategies to attract investment 

As per EoDB (Ease of Doing Business) rankings evaluated by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Government of India, the state ranked 14 in 2016 but achieved rank 2 in 2019. To make tourism sector lucrative for respective investors, UP Tourism Policy 2018 was implemented which highlights that the state has attracted proposals for hotels, resorts, convention centres and adventure tourism. It has categorised destinations in 12 circuits like Ramayana, Mahabharata, Jain, Buddhist, Wildlife & Eco-Tourism, Swatantrata Sangram, Bundelkhand, crafts etc. To attract investors from other states and countries, we have participated in travel and tourism fairs and marts wherein various B2B & B2G interactions were held. 

International Film City

For long, there has been the need of a large-scale international film city and one is proposed to be developed near Agra and Mathura due to the proximity with Delhi and Noida and their ability to provide adequate logistics and transportation support. A single window clearance facility is provided to avail shooting permissions and film subsidies. A new Film Policy has been announced to project cultural, mythological, historical heritage and glorious traditions not only in the country but also abroad. Artistes and producers from UP and outside too will be provided a congenial atmosphere and relevant facilities under the new policy. To ensure availability of all film production-related facilities under single roof, Film Bandhu Uttar Pradesh has been constituted as a nodal agency under the chairpersonship of additional Chief Secretary, Information & Public Relations Department, UP Government. 

A Film Development Fund has been set up for financing films and will be utilised for sanctioning subsidy to regional and Hindi films produced in the state, scholarship to students opting for this industry as a career, ensuring development of cinematic talent, arrangement of film equipment, setting up of film training institutes, organising film festivals, financial assistance on film processing in the state and financing for film awards etc. The fund will be operated by Film Bandhu. A state-level Film Development Council will be constituted to ensure long-term and meaningful development of the film sector in the state. It will deliberate upon long-term strategies for development of films; give suggestions to the government for upgradation and creation of requisite infrastructure for development of films. It will chalk out a strategy to attract investments in the film sector.

Hotels operated by UPSTDC

At present, the number is 40. To ensure quality guest experiences, feedback is taken regularly and aptly replied to. Rectifications, if any, are complied with. On expansion front, various new and existing properties are evaluated and basis CA report and valuation, decision is taken to lease out the properties on PPP mode.

This article was published in BW hotelier issue dated '' with cover story titled 'MARCH-APRIL 2022 F&B SPECIAL'

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