In News: The initiation ritual of the Ram Temple, known as Pran Pratishtha, is set to commence at 12:20 pm on January 22 in Ayodhya, led by Prime Minister Modi. Ayodhya has witnessed substantial investments exceeding $10 billion in the development of new airports, upgraded railway stations, townships, and enhanced roads. A report by Jefferies anticipates an annual footfall ranging from 50 million to 10 million, solidifying Ayodhya's status as a significant pilgrimage site. Often likened to the Vatican City and Mecca, the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya is considered India's equivalent.
Religious tourism plays a pivotal role in India's tourism industry, with a projected growth to $443 billion by FY33 at an 8% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR). The construction of Ayodhya's Ram Temple, valued at approximately $225 million, is financed through contributions and donations. Anticipating a surge, the city is expected to witness a daily influx of pilgrims ranging from 100,000 to 150,000.
Ayodhya is experiencing a surge in the construction and development of hotels. Presently, the city boasts approximately 17 hotels offering around 590 rooms. In anticipation of a rise in tourist arrivals, a report indicates that there are 73 new hotels in the works, with 40 of them already in the construction phase.
Well-known hotel chains and hospitality companies such as IHCL (Indian Hotels Company Limited), Marriott International, Wyndham, and OYO Rooms have plans to establish additional hotels in Ayodhya. These hospitality projects aim to significantly increase room capacity to accommodate the growing influx of tourists and pilgrims visiting Ayodhya.
The completion of Phase I of Ayodhya's new airport is a noteworthy achievement, marking a milestone in facilitating air travel to and from the city.
Phase I of the airport, constructed at an estimated cost of approximately $175 million, has the capacity to handle 1 million passengers annually, as indicated in the report. Meanwhile, the international terminal in Ayodhya is anticipated to be operational by 2025. Upon its completion, Phase II of the airport is projected to accommodate approximately 6 million passengers each year.
Despite these developments, tourism in India still has ground to cover. The contribution of tourism to India's GDP currently stands at about 6.8 percent, placing India below many emerging and developed economies, as highlighted in the report.
In a broader context, India's Union Budget for 2023-24 allocated ₹2400 crore to the tourism sector. The central government has initiated programs such as the Swadesh Darshan Scheme, PRASHAD Scheme, and Adarsh Smarak Scheme, actively promoting integrated development, pilgrimage site enhancement, and monument revitalization, serving as additional driving forces for the sector.
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