Lumbini Attracts 1.55 million in 2017

15th Jan, 2018 | Tourism Mail Crew

LUMBINI, Jan 15: 1.55 million tourists have visited Lumbini in 2017,  20.75 percent more compared to the number in 2016.

1.25 million tourists from that number were domestic visitors, according to the Lumbini Development Trust. The total number of foreign visitors to Lumbini in 2017 was 301,240, including 155,444 Indian visitors.

According to the trust, there were 48,528 visitors from Sri Lanka, Thailand (27,603), Myanmar (21,531), China (15,770), S Korea (5,103), Vietnam (5,043), Bhutan (2,278), UK (1,677), Germany (1,636) and Australia (1,625). Tourists from 87 countries made the trip to Lumbini last year. Despite the growth in foreign tourist numbers, their stay in the birthplace of Buddha has not increased, travel trade entrepreneurs said. Nearly 90 percent of foreigners visting Lumbini spend less than an hour in the area before moving on.

“A majority of foreign tourists visiting Lumbini are handled by Indian tour operators. They enter Lumbini overland from across the Indian border, and spend a few minutes looking around,” said Mithun Shrestha, Vice President of Siddhartha Hotel Association. “As a result, the local community and the country have not been able to reap benefits from the day-tripper.” He said that Indian visitors usually enter Nepal carrying food which means that they don’t eat at local restaurants. Foreign tourists usually stay for an average of 13 days in Nepal but most travellers visiting Lumbini barely stay for 30 minutes, according a study conducted in 2013.

Currently, the government is upgrading the Gautam Buddha Airport in Bhairahawa into an international airport as part of its South Asia Tourism Infrastructure Development Project. There are more than 250 big and small hotels surrounding Lumbini.