How the Yogi Adityanath government plans to promote rural tourism in UP

The Yogi Adityanath government, which is perceived by many as focusing only on religious tourism, now plans to give a boost to rural tourism and is drawing up a plan for it. The plan includes promotion of historical, religious and cultural heritage of villages in Uttar Pradesh.

According to the UP chief minister’s office, to start with, 18 districts have been identified for promotion of rural tourism. These are Lucknow, Lakhimpur Kheri, Mathura, Aligarh, Agra, Firozabad, Varanasi, Azamgarh, Prayagraj, Bhadohi, Gorakhpur, Kushinagar, Jhansi, Lalitpur, Ayodhya, Barabanki, Chitrakoot and Banda. From each of these districts, the state government will pick two villages for showcasing. A senior official in the CM’s office said more districts will be included in future in phases.

Mukesh Meshram, principal secretary, tourism and culture, said advisory organizations for the first 18 districts to be covered have already been selected. “Though our department, in addition to encouraging better agricultural practices, craftsmanship, handloom and handicrafts, we are beginning the process of promoting the rich historical, religious and cultural heritage of UP’s villages,” he said.

The advisory organizations will first conduct a survey in the 18 districts. The surveyors will contact the district magistrates as well as tourism stakeholders about issues pertaining to rural tourism, said an official of the CM’s office.

A state government official said Adityanath is of the view that promoting rural tourism will help bolster the rural economy. Speaking at an event recently, Adityanath had stressed on the holistic development of gram panchayats in UP. Of the estimated 250,000 grams of panchayats in India, about 58,000 ares in UP. “These gram panchayats will play crucial role in achieving UP’s target of becoming a $1 trillion economy [by 2027],” Adityanath said.

After the formation of the Adityanath government in 2017, an aim was set to promote local economies and rural tourism with the help of village youth. These groupings were aptly named Yuvak Mangal Dals and Mahila Mangal Dals and were to be trained as ‘Paryatan Mitra’. The government’s tourism policy of 2018 made a special mention of village and agri-tourism as well as Mangal Dals.

In its second term, the state government has constituted an Eco-tourism Board. The government has also decided to make the Mangal Dals more proactive. Its volunteers will be trained to promote local tourism, the highlight being indigenous and specialized products, handicrafts, garments and other traditional goods manufactured by local artisans, particularly in villages and rural areas. According to the tourism department, 78,000 Mangal Dals are registered in the state. Of this, 42,000 are Yuvak Dals and 36,000 Mahila Dals. The groups comprise members in the age group of 15 to 35 years.

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