Varanasi has now shed its seasonal tourist destination tag. Domestic tourist arrivals in Varanasi at least 20-30 per cent higher. After the completion of Kashi Vishwanath corridor project in 2021, the city has evolved into a year-round tourist destination, and every stakeholder including hotels, tour operators, boat operators, and rickshaw pullers are benefitting – Secretary, ADTOI UP Chapter
When it comes to inbound tourism, Varanasi also mirrored the post-Covid nationwide slowdown. Foreign arrivals in the city barely touched 20 per cent of their 2019 levels, according to Abhishek Sanskriti, Secretary, Association of Domestic Tour Operators of India (ADTOI), UP Chapter.
However, amidst this challenging backdrop, spiritual tourism came as a saviour for Varanasi’s tourism sector. Post-pandemic, there has been a remarkable surge in Indians’ zest for spiritual travel, which has breathed new life into the city’s tourism.
“Due to a surge in spiritual visits, Varanasi’s domestic tourist arrivals have not only recovered but significantly exceeded the pre-pandemic levels. Today, domestic tourist arrivals in the city are estimated to be at least 20 to 30 per cent higher as compared to the corresponding figures of 2019,” said Sanskriti.
The ADTOI Secretary also pointed that Varanasi has now shed its seasonal tourist destination tag. Post-pandemic, and notably after the completion of the Kashi Vishwanath corridor project in 2021, the city has evolved into a year-round tourist destination, and every stakeholder including hotels, tour operators, boat operators, and rickshaw pullers are benefitting from this trend.
Another contributing factor to the domestic resurgence in Varanasi is the improved connectivity to the city including from places like Delhi. The introduction of trains like Tejas Express and Vande Bharat Express has played a pivotal role in making Varanasi a popular weekend destination for visitors from Delhi, a trend that was not prevalent in the past.
Moreover, Varanasi’s prominence as the parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also helped the city gain the spotlight. Varanasi frequently plays host to high-profile individuals and events. In the recent past, the city has been the venue for one of the G20 meetings and SCO’s tourism ministers’ conference.
By Prem Kumar