Sun, 14 Aug 2022

Lumbini [Nepal], May 15 (ANI): Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Nepal, grand preparations are in full swing in Lumbini.

PM Modi will pay a visit to Nepal's Lumbini on Monday on the occasion of Buddha Purnima. At Lumbini, he will offer prayers at the sacred Mayadevi Temple and, separately, participate in the Shilanayas (foundation laying) ceremony of a Centre for Buddhist Culture and Heritage to be built with Indian assistance.

Hoardings have been put up all along the highway leading to Lumbini, hailing Indo-Nepal relations.

During his visit, PM Modi will also meet Nepali counterpart Sher Bahadur Deuba at Lumbini for bilateral talks. Nepal has always been a very high priority for PM Modi.

This will be Prime Minister's fifth visit to Nepal since 2014.

PM Modi's visit to Nepal at a time when the geopolitical dynamics are rapidly changing and even Kathmandu has witnessed a division of opinion on issues like MCC and BRI is seen to be highly important amid India going on an overdrive to deepen its ties with the immediate neighbours barring Pakistan. Nevertheless, the visit offers an immense opportunity for Nepal.

With tourism being the mainstay of the Nepalese economy, religious tourists are the main contributors to the hilly nation's industry. Not only has it generated thousands of jobs, but has also promoted Nepalese culture, lifestyle and traditions.

Nepal has a lot to offer to tourists, from the high Himalayas to the jungles of the Tarai plains teeming with wildlife, and from the scenic grandeur of its rolling hills to the rich cultural heritage of its inhabitants. Yet tourism has not been able to make a sizeable contribution to its gross domestic product (GDP). As against Nepal, Tanzania, for instance, draws tourists in much greater numbers to its game safaris and Mount Kilimanjaro, raking in a remarkable USD 2.5 billion annually.

India is making a significant investment in infrastructure to implement the Buddhist religious circuit. Investment is directed towards connectivity, addressing the paucity of hotels and also issues of cleanliness and safety, as well as creating amenities along the stretch of the transnational circuit.

Greater cooperation between India and Nepal needs to focus on joint promotion and marketing, capacity building in the tourism industry, development and sharing of industry standards, and common branding and development of Buddhism religious tourism products. This may require setting common tourism standards and the formulation of a common marketing strategy such as the creation of a brand, to develop a common website for promotion etc.

Hence the interdependence between India and Nepal for religious tourism through the transnational Buddhist circuit will be a driver not only for economic growth but also for bilateral relations. (ANI)

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