World Bank approves USD 40 mn loan for UP tourism project

ANI | Updated: Dec 21, 2017 11:43 IST

New Delhi [India], Dec 21 (ANI): Loan worth USD 40 million for a tourism project in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh was approved by the World Bank Board of Executive Directors on Wednesday.

International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) will grant the loan which has a 5-year grace period, and maturity term of 19 years.

The Uttar Pradesh Pro-Poor Tourism Development Project will support the state government's priority of re-structuring tourism in a way that optimizes the state assets in an inclusive and sustainable manner directly benefiting poor residents and local entrepreneurs, such as rickshaw drivers, local artisans and street vendors.

The project will help enhance their linkages with the tourism value chain, while improving living conditions for some of the state's poorest residents through better infrastructure and services.

"In 2016, the state attracted 211 million domestic and over six million international visitors. Despite this, UP remains India's third poorest state, with a 37.7 percent poverty rate," the World Bank said in an official release pointing that the project will increase tourism-related benefits for local communities.

"Tourism is experiencing a period of strong growth driven by India's burgeoning middle class. Uttar Pradesh with its rich historical, religious and cultural resources, has unrivalled tourism potential. However, the economic benefits of tourism trickle down unevenly to local communities," said Junaid Ahmad, World Bank Country Director in India.

Ahmad further said that the tourism project will enable culturally rich local communities to share their knowledge, traditions and heritage with visiting tourists for generating income.

The project will focus on Agra and the Braj region, which despite being two of the prime tourist and pilgrimage destinations of India and UP, have some of the state's highest poverty rates.

To ensure a destination-level approach, the project will finance the preparation of a tourism development plan for Agra, leverage and partner with the private sector, as well as other key agencies working in the city, such as the World Monuments Fund.

Given its association with the Krishna mythology and its popular parikrama (pilgrimage) routes, the Braj region draws millions of pilgrims annually. The project will revitalize some of these assets, many of which are intrinsically linked to local communities' way of life with major emphasis on rescuing the living heritage of the region. (ANI)