Republica Daily, 1 Dec 2017
Tourism stakeholders of Lumbini have stressed the need to enhance connectivity and ensure smooth and hassle-free services at Nepal-India border for bringing more foreign tourists to Lumbini - birthplace of the Buddha - via India.
Speaking at an interaction organized in Lumbini on Wednesday by Association of Buddhist Tour Operators (ABTO), they said that the two governments should take needful initiatives for making border formalities easier for tourists.
“Things are a bit easier on the Nepali side. But the process is tedious and full of hassles on the Indian side of the border. This has to improve as the number of foreign tourists starting the Buddhist Circuits pilgrimage from Nepal will increase manifolds once Gautam Buddha International Airport comes into operation,” Rabindra Sharma, Nepal coordinator of ABTO, said in the interaction.
ABTO is an umbrella body of tourism entrepreneurs involved in Buddhist pilgrimage tourism. Headquartered in Bihar, India, it has chapters in different countries, including Nepal.
Similarly, Chetan Pant, adviser of Siddharthanagar Hotel Association of Nepal (SHAN), suggested that Nepal and India should start talks about starting railway circuit, connecting Lumbini to other Buddhist sites in India.
Lumbini welcomed 136,253 foreign tourists in 2016 which is just a fraction of what other Buddhist Circuits sites in India like Bodh Gaya, Sarnath and Kushinagar receive.
Most of the foreign tourists come to Lumbini via India.