It's a state that proudly boasts of one of the 7 wonders of the world- The Taj Mahal in Agra, Varanasi- the cradle of piety and pilgrimage hub, Mathura- the birth place of Lord Krishna, Ayodhya- the birth place of Lord Rama, Allahabad- where three sacred rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati meet at the Triveni Sangam, various wildlife sanctuaries and Jhansi, Lucknow, Meerut Fatehpur Sikri- constructed by the King Akbar, they all have immensely contributed a lot to the vibrant heritage of the Uttar Pradesh.
Varanasi is a hot spot for foreigners visiting India. With its scenic riverbanks and plenty of religious sites, the holy town is quite popular with the tourists. Tourism is one of the major sources of revenue in the city.
But sadly, the rising crimes against women in Uttar Pradesh has taken a toll on once booming tourism industry in the state, which is not only bad for the state's image but also for the nation on the global platform.
An Assocham report on Tuesday said, "Deteriorating law and order situation and incidents of rape in Uttar Pradesh, reverberating in the global media, will leave an adverse impact on the tourism sector of the country."
About half of the total foreign tourists visit India to see Taj Mahal (Agra), Golden Temple (Amritsar), Khajuraho (Madhya Pradesh) and Jaipur (Rajasthan), the report said.
Out of the USD 18-19 billion foreign exchange earned through the foreign tourists arrivals (FTAs), the Taj Mahal itself is contributing for USD 7-8 billion, Assocham Secretary General D S Rawat said while releasing the report.
However, the only factor that can lead to doing less of the damage is the fact that these incidents like the one at Badaun have happened in quite a lean season when the foreign tourist arrivals come quite to a trickle, thanks to heat wave in most parts of India, particularly in the North.
"Still, about 4.5 lakh foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs) are recorded even in June. However, the North-bound FTAs are less in number... In a way, the damage because of the adverse publicity resulting from these unfortunate incidents could be limited because of lean period," the chamber said.
The report also stressed on a need to take confidence building measures without any loss of time, well before September-October when the FTAs start picking up, peaking in December and January.
The country earns a tidy USD 18-19 billion of foreign exchange through FTAs and 40-45 per cent of tourists have Taj Mahal on their main itinerary, it added.
The Taj Mahal itself is responsible for foreign exchange earnings of about USD 7-8 billion. Since it is located in Uttar Pradesh and is very popular among the women tourists, the state government must take steps and send immediate signals across the world that women are safe in the state," Rawat said.
April to September, because of summer and humidity, is considered as lean season, attracting monthly FTAs of about 4- 4.5 lakh.
However, the figure picks up from October onwards rising from 5 lakh FTAs to sometimes 8 lakh FTAs in December/ January with bulk of them visiting the Golden triangle of Delhi-Agra-Rajasthan.
(With PTI inputs)