Kathmandu – The International Buddhist Travels Mart has commenced at Bodhgaya in Bihar state of India.
Organized by Association of Buddhist Site Tour Operators (ABTO), the travel mart aims to promote the places in Nepal and India that are related to the Buddha’s life.
Addressing the inaugural programme of the travel mart, Secretary at the Ministry of Tourism of India, Vinod Jutsi expressed that the travel mart will be important in terms of the development and promotion of areas of Buddhist tourism in both countries.
He stressed that it was also necessary to promote religious tourism by connecting the major places related to the life of Gautam Buddha, including Nepal’s Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha and Bodhgaya where he attained enlightenment, considering the influence of Buddhism in the world.
India’s Tourism Ministry Secretary called foe paying attention to the construction of road infrastructure and tourist-friendly physical structures to attract tourists to these places.
Chairperson of the Ashoka Mission, Bhikkhu Lopjang said there is the need of further publicizing the Buddha education and philosophy.
Vice-Rector of Indobesia-based Dootabeera Buddhist Campus, Ifandi Hansen spoke of the need of attracting as many Buddhist tourists to places related to the life of the Buddha as the Buddha philosophy was spreading in the world.
President of Siddhartha Hotel Association of Nepal, Chandra Prakash Shrestha suggested that the tourism entrepreneurs of Nepal and India to prepare a tourism package connecting the places included in the Buddha Circuit encouraging tourists visiting Lumbini to also visit Bodhgaya and vice versa.
Tourism entrepreneurs and stakeholders from 17 countries, including Siddhartha Hotel Association Nepal, India, China, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Malaysia, Cambodia and Myanmar are participating in the event.
The participants will be discussing on the ways to increase the number of tourists to various Buddhist tourism destinations through enhanced connectivity and promotional activities. Twenty various familiarization stalls have been kept at the mart by various travel agencies and hotels of Nepal and India.
It is said the tourism entrepreneurs from Lumbini will be holding business-to-business and business-to-customers meetings regarding the various facilities available to tourists, the Lumbini tour package and other tourism services in Lumbini, Bhairahawa and Tilottama areas on the occasion.
A team of 33 persons including the tourism entrepreneurs, hotel entrepreneurs, representatives of Society of Tour and Travel Organizations (SOTTO) Nepal and journalists is participating in the event.