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Lumbini Airport aim to bring Buddhist Thais to Nepal

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Lumbini, The Birth Place Of Gautam Buddha

Nepal is hoping to attract Buddhist pilgrims from Thailand to the birthplace of Lord Buddha with the opening of the Lumbini Airport scheduled later this year. The area is an important Buddhist site and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Nepalese officials hope to attract Buddhist Thai travellers on sacred pilgrimage trips.

The Nepal Tourism Board recently met with the Royal Thai Embassy Kathmandu for discussions on how to grow tourism after the Covid-19 pandemic finally subsides. The meeting took place in Kathmandu with the chief executive of the tourism board reaching out to Thai officials on ways to create cooperation and increase travel between the two countries. The tourism board is focusing on holiday packages to Nepal for the Thai market aimed at not just Buddhist pilgrims but also trekkers, hikers, mountain climbers and other outdoor activity enthusiasts.

Tourism accounts for about 3% of Nepal’s gross domestic product since the country opened its borders to foreign travellers in 1951. Before Covid-19 took hold of the world, about half of the 70,000 travellers from Thailand to Nepal were Buddhist pilgrims while the other half were outdoor adventure tourists. About 25,000 of those travellers visited the time monasteries in Lumbini in 2019.

The Thai government and Nepalese government plan to work in tandem on marketing plans aimed at people who love the mountainous scenery and Buddhist pilgrims alike. They hope to strengthen ties between Nepal and Thailand and work closely with the tourism authority of Thailand to help bring awareness and run promotional programs directly in Thailand.

The chief executive of the NTB conveyed a thankfulness to Thailand for building Buddhist monasteries which inspire Thai pilgrims to visit Nepal. The ambassador to Thailand also suggested promoting new tourism activities like scenic helicopter journeys to Namche and visits to less famous Nepalese natural sites and attractions like Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Chandragiri, Chitwan, and Gokyo Lake.

The new international airport, scheduled to open soon in Lumbini, will allow much easier travel, with direct flights from Thailand to Nepal. It is set to open within the next 6 months with the hopes of international flight routes scheduled from Thailand and around Asia.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

 

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Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10 years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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