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30 May 2017

Govt to promote Bengal as gateway to 'Buddhist tourism'

Govt to promote Bengal as gateway to Debamoy Ghosh, MP, 29 May 2017, Kolkata: The Bengal government will launch the state as a 'gateway of Buddhist tourism in Asia'.

The matter was recently discussed in a meeting of senior officials of the state government and top officials of several airlines, trade promotion organisations, chambers of commerce and some major industrialists, where everybody agreed that Bengal has the potential to become a gateway for Buddhist tourism, especially due to its unique geographical location.

In Moghulmari in West Midnapore, relics of a Buddhist university have been recently unearthed. The place has become a tourist attraction and Buddhist people from across the globe are visiting the place. It is said that Fa Hien, the famous Chinese scholar had visited the university and had left for Sri Lanka from Tamralipta (now Tamluk) port. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for the first time announced Buddha Jayanti as a state holiday this year. "This will be an ambitious project by the state government. We believe that Bengal is a place which can channelise the Buddhist tourists in different and more fruitful directions. The journey can be started from here. The tourists can reach Buddhist shrines in Jharkhand, Bihar, Nepal and Bhutan from Bengal," said a state government official.

Footfall at the Bagdogra Airport in North Bengal has reached a record high recently and expansion plans for the airport are underway on a war footing. "The Bagdogra Airport will play a major role in this project. Recently, the airport recorded an increase in footfall which is really encouraging," said the source. Some industrialists suggested to the government that Kolkata is well connected to other cities across the country but direct flights to USA and the UK will add more connectivity. Connectivity to the South East Asian countries is also important.
Tour operators suggested to the government that most of the Buddhist tourists come from mainland Southeast Asia, comprising Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar Malaysia and Maritime Southeast Asia, comprising Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines, East Timor and some other small nations.

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