Uttar Pradesh saw its tourism numbers crashing by 84 per cent in 2020, with its top tourism sites like the Taj Mahal staying closed for much of the year due to lockdown, Covid-19 and foreign tourist inflow becoming a trickle.
The Centre is still to come out with its annual tourism report for the year 2020 but tourism figures accessed by News18 of Uttar Pradesh reveal how hard the pandemic and the resultant lockdown hit the tourism industry of leading states.
The Uttar Pradesh tourism report says UP saw only 8.7 crore tourists in 2020, including just 8.9 lakh foreign tourists, in comparison to 54 crore tourists that visited the state in 2019 including over 47 lakh foreigners.
The biggest drop was in tourists to Agra, the site of the iconic Taj Mahal and Agra Fort which are the top centrally protected sites visited by tourists in the country, along with Delhi’s Red Fort. Agra saw 1.09 crore tourists in 2019, including nearly 17 lakh foreign tourists, but last year only 27 lakh tourists came to Agra and foreign tourists were down to just 4.5 lakh. Taj Mahal is finally opening on Wednesday (June 16) after a gap of over two months.
Besides Agra, the six Buddhist sites in UP like Sarnath, Kaushambi and Kushinagar, get a bulk of foreign tourists but these figures are also down from 6.5 lakh in 2019 to 1.7 lakh in 2020. After Agra, the Prime Minister’s constituency of Varanasi gets the most foreign tourists in Uttar Pradesh but these figures here also dropped from 3.5 lakh in 2019 to 1.06 lakh last year.
The UP tourism report also shows the tourism industry never really recovered in rest of year 2020 from the lockdown imposed in March. Out of the 8.7 crore tourists who visited UP in 2020, 6.85 crore of them came in the first three months. 2019 had seen a tourist boom in UP also due to the Prayagraj Kumbh which alone saw 24 crore tourists including 10.3 lakh foreigners. In 2018, UP saw nearly 29 crore tourists in all, including 37.8 lakh foreigners.
The state is hoping for better tourism numbers in 2021, a senior official said, after the lockdown has been lifted from the entire state after the second wave.