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Wednesday, 16 January, 2019, 12 : 27 PM [IST]

WILL 2019 BE ALMOST THUMBS U.P.?

UNESCO has declared the Kumbh Mela as ‘Most Intangible Cultural Heritage of Mankind’. As the humongous two-month fair begins in Allahabad (now Prayagraj), it turns into a pivot to promote the rest of Uttar Pradesh (UP) as well, to the world media and visitors that are already congregating at the site.

On the government’s part the intentions are clear and the action has also begun. However, a war-like urgency in implementation might be the sole reason if UP Tourism misses the bus this time. The state government has declared tourism as an industry and is investing INR 5,000 crores into it, albeit spread over a few years.

The results of the all-round work are visible like flashes in the pan only because so much remains to be done. The Swachh survey rated Prayagraj as the city that has shown the fastest growth in the cleanliness ratings and reports suggest that some of it is getting more visible lately.

All these factors contribute to the tourism climate. The state authorities’ plan to convert 10 heritage buildings to hotels per year for the next four years at least is a step in the right direction. The industry on its part has to reach out and grab the opportunity.

Under the new policy, the interest subsidy would be 5 per cent of the loan amount with maximum of INR 25 lakhs, 100 per cent waiver on stamp duty, conversion and development charges for such projects. Training of staff and tourism professionals is also a field that needs special attention. In this area, the reimbursement of 100 per cent of hospitality-related courses fee up to INR 10,000 per year, per person might appear as crumbs but put to good use, it alters staff attitudes and skills immensely.

Joyjit Chakraborty, GM of Hilton Garden Inn Lucknow, says that it is not only top hospitality brands that stand to gain from this new surge, but the state in its entirety stands to gain immensely. Lucknow itself has seen increased MICE movement with opening of some high-class convention facilities built by the state. He pushes for more emphasis on the Heritage Arc of Agra, Lucknow and Varanasi since the roads connecting them are top of the line today.

Merely a poster about ‘Lucknowi tehzeeb’ and ‘nawabi ambience’ will not suffice. The city and the entire state will have to go into a war footing to implement the plans. The travel & hospitality industry in the state must push for it for its own good.

Anurag Yadav
Industry Expert
The views expressed within this column are the opinion of the author, and may not necessarily be endorsed by the publication.
 
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