7:32 am - Saturday November 7, 2015

UP to develop Agra-Lucknow-Varanasi ‘heritage arc’

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Lucknow: With an intention to boost tourism in Uttar Pradesh, the state government will develop a “heritage arc” involving Agra, Lucknow and Varanasi on the lines of “Agra-Jaipur-Delhi triangle”. “Agra, Lucknow, Varanasi will be developed as a ‘heritage arc’ by improving infrastructure, including roads, pathways and condition of monuments, among other things, to attract tourists in a big way,” chief minister Akhilesh Yadav told reporters after a meeting of the Tourism Promotion Council. Stressing that tourism has a direct impact on the economy and image of the state and job creation and investments, the chief minister said tourism infrastructure development projects like proper facilities for tourists, training of guides and setting up of information centres will be taken up. Yadav said in the first phase, three square kms around the Taj Mahal will be developed. In Lucknow, proper lighting of Rumi Darwaza, Ghantaghar and other monuments will be done and the change will be seen by Diwali, he said. In Varanasi, restoration of ghats, bylanes and historical sites will be undertaken, he said, adding that a Mughal museum and theme park in Agra are coming up and light and sound show will be revived at Residency in Lucknow. “There were also suggestions in the meeting for developing Lucknow as a ‘green city’,” he said, adding that the state capital has everything needed for attracting tourists like heritage, culture, food and architecture. To a question if the state will appoint any face as its brand ambassador, Yadav said the monuments themselves are ambassadors. There are also plans to construct flyovers and road networks in Allahabad, which witnesses a large number of pilgrims during Kumbh and Magh Melas and funds will be allocated for the same in the Budget, he said. The chief minister said an MoU has also been signed with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) for organising “UP travel marts” for promoting tourism. Chief secretary Alok Ranjan said the first such travel mart will be organised for better coordination between tour operators and the hospitality sector on 15 November in Delhi. After this, it will be held in other districts as well, with a mega event in Lucknow between 22 and 25 February, during which international tour operators will be taken to various tourist sites. Ranjan said as a part of suggestions, the government also plans to slash VAT on aviation fuel on Agra-Lucknow route from 21% to 4% after getting it passed by the Cabinet. Rajnan said work on domestic air service linking the three cities is also on the cards.

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