A long overdue idea has been finally put to implementation. Tourism minister K J Alphons has shared that India and Nepal will jointly promote the Buddhist and Ramayana circuits. Speaking in the Lok Sabha, he informed that the decision was taken by both the governments after the second round of meeting held in the first week of July at Kathmandu. As per the agreement, both the governments have decided to constitute a joint forum – Indo Nepal Tourism Forum (INTF).
The forum would be represented by private and public stakeholders from both the countries and would work on mutual consultation. In a bid to roll out an effective outreach, the joint working group would officially recognise the Ramayana and Buddhist circuits for joint promotions through common branding and marketing initiatives. This aside, the tourism ministry is also expected to extend support to Nepal to help it muscle up its human resource and hospitality industry.
Spiritual and religious segments are important pegs of tourism for both the countries. With the idea to boost these segments, India had announced a first-ever transnational tourism circuit, involving Sri Lanka and Nepal in 2016. The PM himself had flagged off a bus service from Janakpur (a bordering town of Nepal and the birthplace of Sita) to Ayodhya in May this year.
As both countries embark on a much-needed bilateral initiative to improve travel and tourism in the region, the undertaking is likely to amplify India and Nepal’s international outreach and could even lead to longer itineraries, aiding tourism businesses across the board. The domestic segment would gain the most, as Ramayana and Buddhist circuits have millions of takers. It will also add weight to the brand ‘South Asia’, and boost the idea of regional cooperation in India’s immediate neighbourhood.