Uttar Pradesh has so much to showcase. It could be said Uttar Pradesh is the soul of India. In coming four years, tourism will be providing employment to youth at a huge scale, says Prof. Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Minister for Tourism and Women & Child Welfare, Family Welfare, Government of Uttar Pradesh, in conversation with Arpit Gupta of Elets News Network (ENN).
What are the key focus areas of Uttar Pradesh Government in tourism sector?
Tourism has enormous potential to economically develop any State. With its heritage, arts and crafts, spiritual and religious circuits, its flora and fauna, UP can become a haven for Tourism.
Even today UP ranks second in national tourism and third in International tourist visits. UP has announced a New Tourism Policy 2017 that provides enormous opportunities to investors. Besides efforts by UP Government and support by Central Government we shall be focusing on Public-Private Partnership (PPP) to develop well known and lesser yet very attractive tourist’s sites in our State. Spiritual and Religious Tourism provide the most favoured and attractive destination.
The Department is paying special attention to promote Spiritual and Religious Tourism besides the Ramayan, Brij, Krishna and Buddha Circuits the new Tourism Policy has included the Mahabarat Circuit, Shakti peeth and Sufi Circuits. Festivals in the State are celebrated in a grand manner as such Deepawali in Ayodhya and Holi in Barsana will be made International events.
UNESCO has declared Kumbh in Allahabad as the world’s biggest human fair. Kumbh 2019 is being branded both Nationally and Internationally. We are trying to attract foreign tourists in a big way. Special arrangements will be made to provide best facilities to them. For the first time, the Department has partnered in Surajkund Mela to promote UP handicrafts and culture. Varanasi is a paragon of Indian culture, philosophy, traditions and spiritual ethos since times immemorial. In performing arts our music, dance and art forms like Kathak, Thumri etc are being promoted. Take any good name: Ravi Shankar, Bismillah Khan, Uday Shankar, Gudai Maharaj, Sitara Devi and others all are from Varanasi.
The Department is also organizing Mahotsavs, fairs in atleast one dozen important cities where local handicraft and culture is highlighted and promoted. We have so much to showcase. A foodie knows that UP is the place for delicious cuisines. The mouth-watering Kachoris of Western UP, Dal, Bati & Chokha of Eastern UP, Awadhi cuisine of Lucknow, Petha from Agra Gajak of Meerut and the famous sweets of Varanasi can tickle the palate of anyone.
Eco-Tourism and Wildlife Tourism
Eco-Tourism and Wildlife Tourism The Department has signed an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with the Forest Department to promote Eco Tourism and Wildlife Tourism. As far as wildlife is concerned, UP has a rich belt of thick forests- from Bareilly to Lakhipur Kheri, and even beyond. Tigers of Dudhwa (National Park) are larger and more beautiful than those found in Jim Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand.
Similarly, we have several bird sanctuaries, a crocodile farm in Lucknow and world’s oldest Fossil Park in Sonbhadra, just 80 kms away from Varanasi. Beautification of Heritage, New Sites Uttar Pradesh has Taj Mahal, a traditional heritage site attracting millions of international tourists every year. The State ranks second in the country in terms of international tourist inflow because of Taj Mahal in Agra
The Government now plans to develop Fatehpur Sikri and Agra fort so that whoever comes to Taj visits the other two heritage sites as well. A 700 mtrs footpath between the Taj and Agra Fort is being constructed to provide easy access to tourists. Beside the historical heritage sites such as Imambaras and Rumi Darwaza of Lucknow, The forts of Jhansi and Kalingar in Budelkhand, forts of Chunar and Allahabad are must see monuments. We are also focusing on the Bundelkhand Circuit. It has a rich history of bravery.
Imposing fort, hundreds of beautiful water bodies and the most amazing hundreds of years old Devgarh caves and temples are enchanting. The Chief Minister has declared that for good accessibility Bundelkhand will be connected to the Lucknow Agra Highway.
“One District, One Product”
‘One District, One Product (ODOP)’ will be the theme for upcoming four years. UP abounds in crafts and 40% of handicrafts exported worldwide are from our State. The CM has decided to increase access to loans, provide training to artisans and marketing facilities to our artisans. We were given a target of Rs. 5,000 Cr. investment in investors meet and we will pretty well acede the target. Beside the established sites our policy will attract investment in unexplored and lesser known tourist sites. We are also working on promoting Wellness and Health, Adventure and experiential tourism as well.
Tell us about the job opportunities in the Tourism sector.
We have promised to generate atleast 5 lac jobs every year through tourism promotion. A NITI Aayog report says that an investment of Rs. 10 lac in tourism can provide job to 70 persons. This is the potential of my department that we will exploit it to the maximum. Tourism in U P will attain new heights and play a major role in building the economy of our state