nion Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Tourism & Culture Shri Prahlad Singh Patel, as Chief Guest inaugurated the Webinar on “Cross Border Tourism” organised by the Association of Buddhist Tour Operators on 15th July 2020
Inaugurating the Webinar, Shri Prahlad Singh Patel listed the important sites in India related to the life of Lord Buddha. He mentioned that Buddhism has a large following across the world and India being the ‘Land of Buddha’ and endowed with rich Buddhist heritage attracts very small percentage of Buddhist Pilgrims. Shri Patel stressed the point that it was important for all to ascertain the reasons for India receiving a fraction of global Buddhists as tourist/Pilgrims and take corrective measures accordingly.
The Minister also shared the initiative of having signage in international languages at important Buddhist sites in the country including signages in Chinese language that have been put up at 5 Buddhist sites / monuments in Uttar Pradesh including Sarnath, Kushinagar and Sravasti. Similarly, since Sanchi receives a large number of tourists from Sri Lanka, signages in Sinhalese language have been put up at the Sanchimonuments.
The MoS (I/C) Tourism & Culture also highlighted the decision of Government of India to declare the Kushinagar Airport in Uttar Pradesh as an International Airport which will offer better connectivity to the air-travellers resulting in boosting of domestic/international tourism and economic development of the region.
He further informed that the Ministry of Tourism, under its various schemes has taken several initiatives for the development and promotion of Buddhist sites in the country.
The Association of Buddhist Tour Operators is the association of dedicated inbound tour-operators engaged in promoting Buddhist tourism, with over 1500 members in India & Overseas.
Participants in the Webinar included representatives from the UN Peace Keeping Forces Council, Travel & Hospitality Associations of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam amongst others.