Ayodhya’s $10B upgrade targets global religious tourism hub status

Jefferies’ report draws comparisons with other prominent global religious destinations, noting that Ayodhya’s tourist influx could surpass those of renowned sites like the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the Tirupati temple, Vatican City, and Mecca.

The inauguration ceremony of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, has set the stage for a substantial boost in tourism and economic growth. The city underwent a remarkable transformation, with an estimated expenditure exceeding $10 billion (₹85,000 crore approximately) ahead of the consecration ceremony.

According to reports by PTI, the extensive redevelopment of Ayodhya, encompassing the establishment of a new airport, revamped railway station, a township, and improved road connectivity, incurred a total cost of around ₹85,000 crore. Brokerage firm Jefferies suggests that this comprehensive makeover has the potential to attract over 50 million tourists annually to Ayodhya.

Jefferies’ report draws comparisons with other prominent global religious destinations, noting that Ayodhya’s tourist influx could surpass those of renowned sites like the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the Tirupati temple, Vatican City, and Mecca. Currently, the Golden Temple receives an estimated 30-35 million visitors a year, while the Tirupati temple sees 25-30 million visitors. In comparison, Vatican City draws around 9 million tourists annually, and Mecca in Saudi Arabia attracts around 20 million.

The economic impact of this tourism surge is expected to be substantial, contributing significantly to India’s economy and the state of Uttar Pradesh. Tourism presently contributes about 7% of India’s economy, generating nearly $200 billion in revenue. The Ayodhya makeover is projected to generate over ₹25,000 crore in tax revenue for the Uttar Pradesh government, according to the Jefferies report.

To facilitate increased tourism, Ayodhya has seen infrastructural improvements, with phase 1 of the city’s airport already operational and set to expand from 1 million to 6 million passengers by 2025. The railway capacity has also doubled to accommodate 60,000 passengers per day.

Hotel infrastructure is undergoing substantial expansion to meet the anticipated demand. Currently, Ayodhya has around 17 hotels with 590 rooms, and 73 new hotels, 40 of which are already under construction, are in the pipeline. Renowned hotel chains like Indian Hotels, Marriott, and Wyndham have signed deals for hotels, while ITC explores opportunities in Ayodhya. Oyo plans to add 1,000 hotel rooms to the city.

With multiple agencies projecting robust tourism growth for Ayodhya and Uttar Pradesh, it is anticipated that total tourist expenditure in the state could surpass ₹4 lakh crore by the end of the year, as reported by the Economic Times, quoting an SBI report.