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Ayodhya’s Growth Story: From Temple to Tourism Hub

Editor – Ankita Kumari ||

In the heart of India, Ayodhya, a city rich in religious, historical, and cultural importance, is about to undergo a monumental transformation into a global hub for spiritual tourism.

The spotlight falls on January 22nd as Prime Minister Modi inaugurates the Ram Temple, not just a religious event but a catalyst for an economic campaign. Imagine this – a whopping US$10 billion makeover, including a new airport, revamped railway station, a sprawling township, and improved road connectivity. It’s not just about infrastructure; it’s a roadmap for a tourism boom driven by infrastructure.

Consider the numbers: India’s tourism contributed $194 billion to the GDP in FY19, with an expected 8% yearly growth propelling it to US$443 billion by FY33. However, there’s room to grow as India’s tourism to GDP ratio stands at 6.8%, below that of many peers. Ayodhya, with its religious allure, emerges as a template for change. The Rs850 billion ($10 billion) makeover positions Ayodhya as a global religious tourist hotspot, promising economic ripples across sectors – hotels, airlines, hospitality, FMCG, and more.

Cost of making Ram Mandir – The centerpiece

Overview

Investment: built at an est. cost of Rs18bn ($225mn), with the cost being funded through contributions and donations Status: grand inauguration on January 22nd, 2024.

Key highlights

• Main pilgrimage site, spread over nearly 70 acres and will be equipped to host about a million devotees together

• Number of pilgrims is expected to jump to 100-150k per day

Mega infrastructure projects

Ayodhya gets its own airport leading to boost in tourism, business & employment.

Investment: Phase I built at a cost of Rs14.5bn ($175mn)

Status: Phase I, operational from January 6, 2024, three additional terminals including an international terminal, that would be operational from 2025

 Annual handling capacity: 1m passengers currently and 6m post phase II

Ayodhya’s railway station is revamped to cater to a high number of arrivals.

Investment: Phase I built at a cost of Rs2.4bn ($30mn)

Status: Phase I operational Capacity: increased from 30k to 60k passengers in phase I

Other infrastructure projects Road connectivity:

Three key roads: Ram Path (13km), Ram Janmabhoomi Path (2km), and Bhakti Path (750m) – have been revamped, featuring grand gates at entry and exit points.

Township: launch of a 1,200-acre greenfield township, built at an estimated cost of Rs22bn ($260mn), to cater to the potential interest of senior citizens and families seeking a second home on account of sacred significance.

Hotels / Hospitality

As Ayodhya gears up for the grand inauguration of the Ram Temple, it’s not just about spirituality; it’s a strategic move that anticipates a surge of 50 million tourists annually.

• Demand outstripping supply: At present Ayodhya has 17 hotels with 590 rooms

• 73 new hotels in the pipeline, of which 40 are already under construction

• IHCL, Marriott International, Wyndham, etc. have already signed deals for hotels

• IHCL has signed contracts for two new properties in Ayodhya (operational in 2027)

• ITC Hotels exploring opportunities in Ayodhya

• OYO to add 1000 hotel rooms in Ayodhya

FMCG & QSR

 Imagine the economic ecosystem – hotels bustling with activity, FMCG and QSR chains like Jubilant Foodworks and Britannia riding the wave.

• Religious & pilgrimage sites like Ayodhya, The Golden Temple, Vaishno Devi, etc. present significant captive markets offering strategic first-mover advantage

• QSR chains such as Restaurant Brands Asia (RBA), Devyani International, Jubilant Foods are either in discussions to set up outlets or have already begun setting up outlets

• Burger King set up one store in the city centre in 1H of 2023.

Aviation / Railways & ancillaries

• Indigo, announced Ayodhya as its 86th domestic destination. Direct flights from Delhi, Ahmedabad & Mumbai.

• Air India, announced direct flights from Bengaluru, Kolkata & Delhi

• Spicejet and Akasa Air also announced flights connecting Ayodhya with multiple cities

• IRCTC announced tour packages to Ayodhya

It’s not just about the grandeur of the Ram Temple; it’s the grandeur of a business venture set to redefine Ayodhya and contribute significantly to India’s burgeoning tourism landscape.

In conclusion, Ayodhya’s transformation into a spiritual tourism hub not only enriches India’s cultural and religious landscape but also unlocks immense economic potential across various sectors. As the Ram Temple stands tall, it beckons a new era of prosperity for Ayodhya and India’s tourism sector.

Did you know?

Forbes in 2022, ranked India as the 7th most beautiful country in its ‘The 50 Most Beautiful Countries in The World rankings.

 India has 42 UNESCO World Heritage sites and ranks 6th globally.     

India is one of only three countries in the world to have both hot and cold deserts.

India ranks 10th globally in total area under forest cover.

 India ranked 10th in the Medical Tourism Index (MTI), 12th in top 20 wellness tourism markets globally, and 5th in wellness tourism markets in APAC (as of 2021)

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