Published on : Tuesday, December 3, 2019
For attracting religious tourists from various countries, including India, Nepal has undertaken several infrastructure development projects with support from Asian Development Bank (ADB). To improve regional connectivity and trade, ADB approved USD 180 million last year under the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) programme for widening the East-West Highway connecting India, said ADB country-director Nepal Mukhtor Khamudkhanov.
The project implemented under the SASEC is aimed towards strengthening road, rail, and air links, along with developing port infrastructure to match the needs of the regions – Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. As part of infrastructure development, an international airport near Lumbini, the birth place of Gautam Buddha, is expected to be ready by March next year. The USD 70 million airport infrastructure is being developed under South Asia Tourism Infrastructure Development Project.
Gautam Buddha International Airport, Bhairahawa, a place near Lumbini, is expected to attract tourists from Buddha circuit in India and other adjacent countries like China, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Japan.
More than five countries, including India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Cambodia, have expressed interest in beginning airline operation from the upcoming airport. In spite of Indian Airline hijack in 1999, Nepal remains one of the most preferred destinations for Indian tourists.
As per official data, around 11.73 lakh tourists visited Nepal last year. Of this, nearly 2 lakh were Indians and 69,640 from Sri Lanka and 26,355 from Bangladesh.