Going by government figures on footfalls in the state of Uttar Pradesh, tourist numbers in the state has seen a significant jump. In a first, the total number of footfalls into the state – domestic and international combined – have pushed past the total population of the state. In 2017, the total number of domestic and foreign tourists visiting the state was at 23.7 crore, higher that the total population which stood at around 22 crores. In terms of specifics, Agra clocked the highest number of international visitors while Allahabad – a holy city for the Hindu faith – registered highest number of domestic travellers.
While the development is a welcome sign for the state, Awanish Awasthi, Director General of UP Tourism, remained far from satisfied. Speaking to Time of India, he noted that “we are doing fine. But states like Goa, Jammu and Kashmir and Kerala are doing much better than us. Our rank in the national scenario suggests that the state has miles to go.” He added that the state tourism department was trying to formulate a structure for the tourism sector. “We have rolled out a formal policy during the recent UP Investors’ Summit. Besides, drawing investment, we are planning to add attractions such as theme tours, adventure or caravan packages. Our focus is on foreign tourists as that can turn around our tourism economy,” he said to the leading national daily.
As per government data, Taj has significantly boosted the foreign tourist arrivals in Uttar Pradesh by almost 13% in 2017. The growth in tourism numbers is a welcome sign, but industry has long argued that state’s over-dependence on Taj Mahal as a stand-alone monument for attracting tourists may not be a conducive way forward. It is heartening to note that the state tourism department is making serious efforts to diversify the bouquet of tourism offerings, incorporating newer and hitherto untouched segments such as adventure tourism, themed tours and others. Such a larger bouquet of offerings will adequately ensure that growth in tourism numbers continues as a norm and not merely as an aberration.