Lumbini turning into a pit stop

  • Hoteliers are losing out on customers with tourists returning in haste

Bhairahawa, February 19

Lately, Lumbini is becoming a pit stop for majority of tourists travelling to the world heritage site.

According to sources, tourists skipped exploring much in the Lumbini area and were in a haste to return. “The tourists do not visit all the sites in the area and are found to be in a hurry to return,” said Haridhwaj Rai, chief information officer at Lumbini Development Fund. He added that the number of visitors staying at the pilgrimage site was declining. “We want tourists arriving in Lumbini to spend a few nights here, but I have observed that most of them observe the Mayadevi temple and simply return,” Rai said.

Visitors from as far as Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia and Sri Lanka visit this holy Buddhist shrine. Besides the Mayadevi temple, there are other heritage sites such as Buddha Sila, Puskarani pond, peace lamp and Bishwo Shanti monastery in Lumbini. However, the trend of cutting short their visit to Lumbini is on the rise among tourists.

“Most visitors come along with Indian tourists riding on Indian tourist vehicles and return the same day by observing the heritages in Lumbini, Kapilvastu’s Tilaurakot and Nigrodhram Kudan,” said officials at the Belhiya-based Immigration office.

Meanwhile, the trend of tourists cutting short their visit to Lumbini has affected local businesses here. “Hotels rely on tourists, but as tourists have not stayed here, the businesses have been affected,” said a tourism entrepreneur and hotelier Govind Gyawali, adding there were more than three dozen hotels for tourists in Lumbini.

Despite increase in the number of visitors to the Buddhist shrine, the number of those staying here for a few nights is negligible. “As for the number of visitors, some 227,000 more visitors came to Lumbini in 2017 than in the previous year, but very few of them stayed over here,” said Rai.

The official figures show that some 155,444 Indian visitors and 145,796 from other countries visited Lumbini in 2017, with the domestic tourists’ number crossing the mark of 1.2 million. Tourism entrepreneurs had hoped that more advertisement of the pilgrimage site would boost the number of tourists here.