“Ayodhya will be best tourist spot”

Singh is instrumental in introducing a new tourism policy in the state with emphasis on promoting tourist facilities, particularly in religious places.

“Ayodhya will be best tourist spot”

Uttar Pradesh Tourism & Culture Minister Jaiveer Singh is the first BJP leader to have won a seat for the party from Mainpuri, a bastion of the Sama- jwadi Party, in the 2022 Assembly polls. A three-time MLA who was a minister in the BSP regime, Singh was instrumental in introducing a new tourism policy in the state with emphasis on promoting tourist facilities, particularly in religious places.

In an interview with Manoj Bhadra of The Statesman, Singh spoke about how the Yogi Adityanath gov- ernment is promoting tourism in the state with focus on Ayodhya.


Q. With the Ram Temple con- secration on January 22 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, all eyes will be on the facilities to be pro- vided in Ayodhya. Your com- ment?


A: The UP government has been all attentive to providing world-class facilities in Ayodhya for pilgrims as well as for tourists. We are committed to providing five-star facilities. The new tourism policy of the UP govern- ment, the best in the country, has already listed several steps to boost the facilities for people coming from all over the world to pray at the Ram Temple. The development of pilgrim- age sites is the driving force of the economy and it is an integral part of our vibrant tourism sector.

Q: What are the pro jects being undertaken in Ayodhya to make it a world-class pilgrim and tourist Centre?

A: Ayodhya city is developing into the top pilgrim and tourism centre in the world as development plans worth about Rs 32,000 crore are taking shape. These development schemes are being personally monitored by the Prime Minister and the Chief Minis- ter. Some of the big projects are: an international airport in Ayodhya which is almost ready at a cost of Rs 320 crores, the Inter-state bus stand which is also ready at a cost of Rs 219 crores and the Ayodhya Junction rail- way station which is also almost com- plete. Along with these, roads are being widened. Three paths are being built to reach Shri Ram temple. Besides, the proposal to build 25 luxu- ry and five-star hotels is also in process.

Q. Ayodhya is expected to emerge as the busiest religious place in the world after the con- secration of the Ram temple. How will the tourism department manage the huge crowd and what will be the facilities?

A: The tourism department has acquired or purchased several hectares of land at all eight entry points to Ayodhya from different dis- tricts. We have constructed welcome gates at all these places where there will be facilities for budget hotels, dhabas, restaurants, petrol pumps and rest rooms. All these facilities are under construction by private builders. In the coming days, tourists or pilgrims can reach these entry points, park their buses or cars and from there they can take public transport to visit the Ram temple and other temples in Ayodhya. They can stay in hotels near the parking lots too. We have also made efforts to enhance and streamline the public transport sys- tem in Ayodhya so that people do not encounter any problem in easily reaching the temples. Besides, the tourism department in coordination with other depart- ments has developed facilities like food courts and rest rooms at every 500 meters.

Q. Tent cities in other reli- gious and tourist places boost tourist facilities since they can accommodate a huge number of pilgrims. Is there any ‘Tent City’ coming up in Ayodhya too?

A: As per the wish of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, tent cities have been constructed at various places by Shri Ram Mandir Teerth Kshetra Trust and the Ayodhya Development Authority. A ‘Tent City’ is being set up on 20 acres of land at Majha Guitar Ghat, in which arrangements are being made to accommodate thousands of devo- tees. A ‘Tent City’ is also being set up near Brahmakund, in which 35 tents are being installed. At the same time, a city of 30 tents is also being estab- lished in Ramkatha Park. Similarly, a ‘Tent City’ is being set up on 25 acres of land in Bagh Bijesi by Tirtha Kshetra Trust, in which arrangements to accommodate some 10,000 people are being made. Apart from this, a ‘Tent City’ is also being set up in Karsevak Puram and Maniram Das cantonment for the devotees. In these tent cities, which give the feel of a ‘Heritage Cot- tage Stay’, devotees will be able to taste all the flavours of the country and the world, but the most signifi- cant ones will be the Awadhi and Banarasi flavours.

Q: What is the Tourism policy of the UP government and what benefits would the investors get?

A: First of all, we have accorded tourism the status of an Industry which will give several benefits to the investors. Besides this, for any invest- ments under the tourism policy, the state government will provide a 25 per cent subsidy on the entire cost of the project while it will be 30 per cent for women or Schedule Caste entrepre- neurs. There are also several other incentives for investors. To meet the demand of rural tourists and provide them with affordable facilities, the state government has started permit- ting stays in five-room private houses. These homestays will give the pilgrims and tourists a new experience of cul- tural and religious atmosphere. Besides, there would be several good hotels and ‘dharamshalas’ in Ayodhya for the guests.

Q. How did the tourism department fare during the UP Investors Summit 2022 and how much investments were prom- ised by investors?

A: It’s a big achievement for the department that 100 per cent of the Rs 40,000 crore investment proposals that were signed during the meet have fructified. Though several of the investment proposals were from Ayo- dhya, investors also showed interest in other places, particularly religious places. In Ayodhya, most of the proj- ects are under construction and will be completed within a year. Among the projects, there are a couple of 5- star hotels and ‘dharamshalas’ in Ayo- dhya.

Q. What is the share of UP in the national tourism sector and how can it be increased through religious tourism?

A: Religious tourism makes a huge contribution to the Indian economy. While 32 crore domestic tourists visit- ed religious places and pilgrimage sites in the year 2022, the number of foreign tourists was 64.40 lakhs. According to the report for the year 2022, the highest proportion of tourists was in Uttar Pradesh at 18.04 per cent, followed by Tamil Nadu at 12.06 per cent and Andhra Pradesh at 11.01 per cent. Besides, the share of tourism in India’s GDP is 7 per cent and its share in employment is 8 per cent. That means this sector employs 30 crore people in the country.