Nearly seven lakh foreign tourists visited the Taj Mahal last year. That's about half the foreign tourists who visited Agra. The figures for both the monument and the city topped the charts in Uttar Pradesh.
Sheer economic factors such as these may have prompted Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to visit the biggest tourist attraction in the state and seek to contain the damage in the wake of uncharitable remarks against the Mughal monument by his fellow partymen such as Sangeet Som and Vinay Katiyar.
With the tourist season coming up, the UP government does not want to send out a message that it nurses any animosity against the monument. Any such impression may trigger adverse advisories from foreign embassies.
Adityanath said in Agra on Thursday , “Agra is a huge centre for tourism and efforts are on to increase the number of visitors to two-three lakh per day .“ In 2016, according to data available with the UP government, 6.94 lakh of 13.62 foreign tourists who visited Agra went to see the Taj Mahal, 3.78 lakh went to Agra Fort and 1.46 lakh went to Fatehpur Sikri. Foreign tourists accounted for less than a seventh of more than one crore total tourists who visited the city .
The popularity of the Taj Mahal is one of the reasons the state government is pushing for an international airport in Greater Noida as it cuts travel time to the monument by an hour than from Delhi. Adityanath announced that the civil terminal in Agra is being upgraded to receive flights.
The attempt to distance the government from remarks of Som and Katiyar against the Taj Mahal notwithstanding, the Adityanath government has been focusing on promoting tourism in sites associated with Hinduism. It is developing the Krishna Circuit of Mathura, Vrindavan and Govardhan, and the Ramayana Circuit of Ayodhya and Chitrakoot to bring in tourists.