May 22: Province 5 has initiated an ambitious plan to bring in 2 million visitors in Lumbini this year with the announcement of the Visit Lumbini Year 2076. For this, the provincial government has allocated a budget of Rs 19.17 million. However, experts say that the campaign will not materialize unless the government develops concrete plans to extend the visitors’ stay in the birthplace of Lord Buddha.
Prof Dr Gitu Giri, who holds a PhD in archaeological significance of Lumbini, says that the average number of days that a tourist spends in Lumbini is 1.8 days whereas the average number of days that tourists spend in Nepal is 15 days. The provincial government which has already announced the ambitious campaign has no plans to make the tourists stay longer in Lumbini.
Records kept by the Lumbini Development Trust shows that an average of 1.5 million tourists have been visiting the holy site since the last three years. Among them, 1.2 million people are domestic tourists while more than 150,000 are from India and the rest from other countries.
“Looking at the recent records, it won’t be a difficult task to bring in 2 million visitors in Lumbini,” says Dr Giri, adding, “But it is useless to count the numbers if we don’t pay attention in extending their stay.”
Chief Minister of Province 5 Shankhar Pokharel says that the government announced the Visit Lumbini Year with the view to link tourism with economic prosperity and long-term development of the region.
“Lumbini is a holy site for more than one billion Buddhists worldwide. This place is equally important from the historic, archaeological, and cultural aspects,” says Minister Pokharel.
“The provincial government announced this campaign with the belief that we can attract Buddhist tourists who yearn to visit Lumbini once in their lifetime,” he added. This campaign will also support the Visit Nepal Year 2020 announced by the federal government, he further said.