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India had spent a considerable amount of money last year on conducting road shows in several countries to attract Buddhist tourists, and it looks like the government is taking measures this year towards achieving this feat.
During inauguration of a webinar on Cross Border Tourism, Tourism and Culture Minister Prahlad Singh Patel brought focus on the fact that India is known as the ‘Land of the Buddha’ and endowed with a rich Buddhist heritage. Yet, it attracts a very small percentage of Buddhist pilgrims from other countries.
The webinar was hosted by the Association of Buddhist Tour Operators and involved participation from the UN Peacekeeping Forces Council, Travel and Hospitality Associations of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam amongst many others.
Patel said that signages will be installed in foreign languages at Buddhist destinations like Sravasti, Sarnath, Kushinagar and others. This has already been implemented in Sanchi, which receive a great deal of Buddhist tourists from Sri Lanka. He also highlighted the decision of the Centre to declare the Kushinagar airport in Uttar Pradesh as an international airport aimed at promoting tourism.
According to studies in 1950, fewer than 200,000 Buddhists remained in India. The population swelled after Buddhist refugees from Tibet moved to India following the Chinese invasion in 1959, including the Dalai Lama.
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