State Affairs

Domestic tourists prefer Varanasi over Taj Mahal: UP tourism

DELHI: Visitors to one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations, the Taj Mahal, declined last year, but more tourists visited the Prime Minister’s constituency of Varanasi, Lucknow and the holy town Ayodhya in the same period.

The latest numbers compiled by the Uttar Pradesh government have raised concerns about why fewer tourists are visiting the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort, the two most visited monuments in the country, reports The Economic Times.

Interestingly, foreign tourists have increased here, but there has been a dip in domestic visitors. In 2016, a total of 62 lakh tourists went to see the Taj Mahal and 22 lakh to the adjoining Agra Fort — down from 65.13 lakh and 23.44 lakh respectively, in 2015, as per the latest figures of the UP government which have been accessed by ET.

While the number of foreign tourists went up marginally last year to both these monuments, there was a sharp drop among domestic tourists. “Taj Mahal minarets and dome have been under renovation. Plus, the civic infrastructure in Agra city is crumbling despite an expressway and fast trains to the city from Delhi. The reasons for the drop in domestic tourists are being studied,” a senior UP government official told ET.

Overall tourists visiting Agra too has dropped from to 1.03 crore from1.08 crore in 2016. On the brighter side though, tourism numbers have increased in three other tourist hotspots in UP last year — Varanasi, Lucknow and Ayodhya.

While 59 lakh tourists visited Varanasi, up about 5% from 2015, visitors to Lucknow increased by nearly 7 lakh to 49 lakh last year, while Ayodhya saw 1.55 crore tourists, most of whom were domestic.

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