Tourist arrival shoots up in Lumbini after peace process

Lumbini, November 3:

The number of tourists coming to visit Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Gautam Buddha in Kapilvastu district, has been rising steadily over the last five years.

The rise in tourist arrival is mainly attributed to the restoration of peace in the country after the end of the decade-long Maoist insurgency and conflict in the country, according to the Lumbini Development Fund (LDF).

According to statistics, 7,854 passport-holding foreign tourists visited Lumbini in 2002. In 2003, 2004 and 2005, some 28,053, 37,977 and 39,789 tourists visited Lumbini respectively.

In 2006, after the end to conflict and restoration of peace, some 49,595 passport-holding foreign tourists came to Lumbini while 51,437 have visited it till October-end in 2007, said information officer at the LDF Keshav Chaudhari. He added that number of such tourists is expected to cross the 75,000 mark by December end.

The number of domestic and Indian tourists has also shot up significantly, said local journalist Chetan Pant adding that the construction of an international airport at Bhairahawa would further boost tourism prospects in Lumbini.

The largest number of tourist visiting Lumbini is from Sri Lanka followed by Thailand, Myanmar, China, Australia, Japan, Poland, USA, England and Germany. Major tourist attractions are the Pabitra Udyan, Maya Devi temple, teh Ashoka Pillar, Pabitra Pokhari, international museum, Viharas, meditation centre, central canals, international research centre and Shanti Deep. Nilgais (bluebulls), deer, storks and several other animals and birds are other attractions of Lumbini.