Paper Title: Religious Tourism-Comparative Study of Ayodhya and Mathura
Authors: Rajeev Kr. Thakur
Abstract: With large number of Indian tourists travelling for ‘’religious tourism?, the industry and academia has begun to turn its attention towards studying and analyzing the issues related to its sustainability. The interest in the domestic religious tourism in India is one aspect of this phenomenon which covers two kinds of domestic travellers: those who travel specifically for religious purposes such as a pilgrimage and those who travel for other purposes but include visits to religious sites as part of their tour. Many destinations in India , such as Ayodhya and Mathura are already grappling with issues related to the sustainable development of religious tourism such as the measurement and the administration of the flow of tourists during events, the preservation and environmental management of religious and cultural monuments, as well as health, safety and security of the tourists themselves. Thousands of tourists throng various temples all round the year. As the religious tourism industry grows in Ayodhya and Mathura there is a greater need for the city to incorporate sustainable environmental practices in its day to day activities. This paper examines Ayodhya and Mathura as a religious tourist destination can benefit from sustainable environmental practices. In-depth interviews were conducted with a convenience sample of tourists, administrators and local government officials at Ayodhya and Mathura to solicit their views on sustainable environmental practices being implemented in the city. This article explains and supports the idea that the economic impacts of religious tourism should not be neglected or underestimated, although religious institutions have traditionally attempted to downplay this in the past.