Progressively endorsing the state as the newest ‘must-visit’ destination in India, Prof. Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Tourism Minister of the Government of Uttar Pradesh shares her strategies and established actions to achieve country’s highest tourist arrival and tourism receipts, consequently driving employment generation and ensuring best visitor experience in the state

With the recently-concluded Prayagraj Ardh Kumbh Mela, 2019 that established a deeply-rooted foundation for big numbers of incoming travellers in the state, Joshi asserts the fact that Uttar Pradesh is poised to become one of the biggest contributing states in India, in terms of growing inbound and domestic tourist visitations. “Uttar Pradesh recently witnessed huge footfall at Prayagraj Kumbh, which included the unprecedented count of tourists from a number of countries across the globe. I am hopeful that the growing numbers will majorly contribute to the ‘Mission 2020’ of the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India,” she adds. She further informs that with a consistent ranking amongst the top states in terms of tourist arrivals, Uttar Pradesh is one of the most favoured states for tourists in India. In 2017, Uttar Pradesh was positioned as the second-ranking Indian state in terms of the domestic tourist arrivals and third in terms of the foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs).

Moving ahead to advance the optimum growth of the tourism sector, the department launched the ‘Uttar Pradesh Tourism Policy’ in 2018 and the state government granted the status of ‘industry’ to all the activities of the tourism sector. In addition to this, the department of tourism of the government of Uttar Pradesh has taken numerous steps in the past few years to position Uttar Pradesh as a preferred tourism destination in India. “An array of fiscal and non-fiscal incentives is offered to investors to create tourism products and services, to facilitate visitor convenience and increase visitor footfall. Post the launch of the Uttar Pradesh Tourism Policy 2018 and the UP Investor Summit held in February 2018, more than 100 investment proposals in the tourism sector have been received till December 2018,” says Joshi. Also, the tourism department is focusing on promoting ‘Brand Uttar Pradesh’, on the identified tourism circuits or regions such as the Ramayana Circuit, Braj, Buddhist, Wildlife and Eco-Tourism Circuits, respectively beside the Vindhya, Shakti Peeth, Bundelkhand and Sonbhadra Regions’ circuits.

“Through innovative marketing and branding initiatives, Uttar Pradesh is establishing itself as a preferred tourism destination, by making optimum use of tourism experiences across vibrant cities, attractions, nature, wildlife, adventure, food, heritage, religion and culture,” she says. “Some of the targets to be achieved by the state, under its tourism policy include an annual increase of 15 per cent domestic tourist arrival and 10 per cent of FTAs, consistently over the next five years while attracting 1,00,000 tourists to national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in Uttar Pradesh, per year, is another simultaneous target. In addition to this, elevating the standards of public service facilities across the state and providing high-quality visitor experience.”

Subsequently, Joshi shares that the total number of FTAs to the state in 2017 was 35, 56,204 and rising further from this number, Uttar Pradesh Tourism is planning to make the state more favourable for the foreign visitors. “In order to facilitate visitor convenience to the international tourists, the department of tourism has trained a number of tour guides and walk leaders, on various aspects of visitor experience such as the local knowledge, soft skills, to name a few in order to bridge the cultural and language barrier. Similar initiatives are to be undertaken at prominent tourist destinations across the state.” With evident signs of development, districts such as Lucknow, Agra, Gorakhpur, Kanpur, Varanasi, Mathura, Noida, Ghaziabad, Bareily, Lakhimpur Khiri, Ayodhya, Prayagraj, have received investment projects across tourism units such as hotels, resorts, convention centres, wellness tourism, river cruise and adventure tourism. Joshi is of the opinion that such actions and initiatives will drive curiosity across consumer as well as business segments, hence translating into increased visitor footfall to the state and contributing to the ‘Mission 2020’.

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