Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, January 3:

The number of third country tourists visiting Lumbini — the sacred birthplace of Lord Buddha — marked a healthy growth of 35 per cent in 2004, in comparison to the last year.

According to the tourist arrivals data from Information Centre of Lumbini Development Trust (LDT) the tourist arrivals have increased by 35.07 per cent to 37892 in 2004, up from 28053 in 2003.

These figures don’t include the Nepali and Indian nationals visiting the Fountain of World Peace and the World Heritage Site.

Tourists and pilgrims from over 70 countries visited Lumbini this year.

LDT cites the rapid progress and development under Lumbini Master Plan and promotional activities of Lumbini are the major reasons for increment of tourists in Lumbini.

The Second World Buddhist Summit-2004 was the landmark event, which helped in promotional activities to increase the number of tourists to Lumbini.

The outstanding contribution of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) and Tourism for Rural Poverty Alleviation Programme (TRPAP), Monastic Zone and tourism entrepreneurs also played a key role in promoting Lumbini, states LDT.

Among the visitors, Sri Lankan pilgrims topped the list as 12,217 visited Lumbini. Visitors from Thailand, South Korea, Japan and Myanmar are also significantly increased. Around 7735, 3365, 2724 and 2115 visitors from these countries visited Lumbini respectively.

Visitors from new countries like Afghanistan, Latvia, Peru, Laos and Guatemala also visited Lumbini this year, according to LDT.