The Way Forward

Shaheer A. Mirza

What pulls in a tourist to a certain destination, the reply would be as simple as it could be. It is entirely the taste and choice of a tourist to pick and choose the place of interest that suits to the very purpose. It could be a visit to witness the heritage, to see the historical remains, to watch the nature’s treasure, to study the culture, to pacify the taste-buds, to purify the religious belief and the list is endless. Lucknow and the State of Uttar Pradesh are blessed with umpteen such destinations that have a plenty to offer for tourists with variety of preferences.

Right from one end of the state to another, the place offers a wide range to choose from. It has history filled up at almost every step, it has nature to boast its variations, it has culinary artistry, it has sense of fashion and it has everything that a tourist can dream of or think of. From Agra to Varanasi and from Jhansi to other farthest points of the State, there’s a world in itself to be explored by a tourist. Lucknow, being the capital of Uttar Pradesh, in itself has a history and boasts of a rich tourist attraction across the country.

It would be unfair to blame everything on the shortcomings of the government when it comes to Tourism, currently the State is blessed to have a Government setup that is committed to the development at the grass-root level and tourism sector cannot be kept apart with its forward- looking policies.

The young Chief Minister, Shri Akhilesh Yadav, is a visionary person who has seen different parts of the world and has certain projects that would add flavors to the existing tourist riches of the State. Lucknow Observer met the Director-General and Secretary of Uttar Pradesh Tourism, Mr. Amrit Abhijat, a futuristic bureaucrat and discussed with him the upcoming events and projects under the aegis of UP Tourism. Here are the excerpts of a long interview where Mr. Abhijat threw light on various events, which would be presented to readers as a series in future to come:

Why is UP not projected/publicized on a high scale as some other states do?

There are some large scale projects underway and very soon they would be brought out for public to learn more about them. Our motive is to extend our reach by means of social-media and we wish to expand the horizon for western tourists who currently confine themselves to Agra or Varanasi. Our key focus rotates around three major components to win the trust of tourists and offer them a safe and exciting experience to explore the state.

  • Development of the infra-structure
  • Connectivity
  • Branding and promotion

The tourism sector is committed to reach the new heights with improved transport system like LMRC’s project of Lucknow Metro, with the implementation of proposed TRF (Tourism Roads Fund) to the Public Works Department for improvised facilities etc. UP Tourism is closely associated with Janeshwar Misra Park and upcoming International Cricket Stadium that would surely make the travel itineraries all the more exciting and interesting.

The events like ‘Taj Car Rally’ and ‘Mera Agra’, etc. are ventures to project UP as a tourist hub and create awareness among the tourist fraternity. The idea is to reach more and more people through interactions and showcase the state for assets that are still not so popular.

Where do we see Lucknow as a tourist transit in the days to come?

The upcoming Lucknow-Agra Express Highway is bound to minimize the connectivity hassles for the tourists and Lucknow being at the center of Agra- Lucknow-Varanasi ARC is destined to enjoy the influx of enhanced numbers in the days to come. The whole idea is to portray the complete region as a tourist hub, wherein we wish to highlight the surrounding areas of key destinations as well. Lucknow would soon witness the improvised signage system, coordinator facilities at the spots itself, the all-new transport facility to undertake the ‘Heritage-Walk’ and new studies are underway to present Lucknow as a destination of International standard.

Can we have a brief on Heritage-Walk for readers to know?

Heritage-Walk is our initiative to showcase the pristine glory of Lucknow’s yesteryears, to portray its architectural marvels and to offer a look at the lifestyle of this glorious city. We are coming up the fixed itineraries for a couple of such walks through a fixed route that have a platter to offer. One segment would be Qaiserbagh area and the other would be Husainabad and surrounding areas in the Old City. To make this program more realistic and to project the spots as close as their originality, various departments of the State Government are doing a fantastic job by undertaking the breath-taking renovations and clearing all the unwanted encroachments etc. from the places of historical importance.

We have almost finalized few destinations that would go under complete makeover and would add to the long list of tourist attractions. ‘Qadam Rasool’ at Shahnajaf Imambara is one such place that would soon be open with all new looks. The project ‘Heritage-Walk’ also looks at the options of exploring the city with customized road-transport and the plan goes as far as offering bicycle tours to pay respect to the environmental needs of the every growing pollution that has happened with the blown-up population.

We at Lucknow Observer thank Mr. Amrit Abhijat for all his inputs and feel privileged to convey his message to the lovers of Lucknow to extend their bit in making Lucknow a cleaner place. We urge people to live up to the expectations of civic sense and help the Government to make our city a more happening place.

Mr. Amrit Abhijat (Secretary and Director General of U.P. Tourism)

Writer is a travel professional, commentator and a political analyst

(Published in The Lucknow Observer, Volume 1 Issue 11, Dated 05 February 2015)

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