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Five-year plan to repackage India's Buddhist heritage circuit
Rohit Kaul, New Delhi, July 18, 2014

INDIA has come up with a new five-year strategy to rejuvenate the Buddhist heritage circuit across the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, announced India's state minister for culture and tourism.


Minister Shripad Naik said at a press conference yesterday: “Our focus is to transform this Buddhist circuit from a collection of sites to a holistic tourism experience that appeals to various traveller segments.”


The plan, produced in collaboration with World Bank Group affiliate International Finance Corporation, includes the improvement of infrastructure, connectivity, hotels, roadside amenities and other tourist facilities to the tune of US$200 million, which will be raised through public-private partnership.


Specific Buddhist tourism sites to benefit from the plan are: Bodhgaya, Nalanda, Rajgir, Vaishali (Bihar), Sarnath, Kushinagar, Sravasti and Kaushambi (Uttar Pradesh).


However, Lajpat Rai, president of Lotus Trans Travel, noted: “In order to attract the private investment needed to create a favourable business environment, the state governments should consider rationalising the tax system for the Buddhist circuit tourism apart from easing the present licence system for hotels.”


India last week unveiled an ambitious Rs10 billion (US$166 million) budget to to develop India as a more attractive tourism destination including improving air access, airport construction in second- and third-tier cities, introducing e-visas at nine airports by end-2014, developing heritage sites and creating five themed tourist circuits (TTG Asia e-Daily, July 11, 2014).

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