India, Sri Lanka to boost Buddhist tourism

IANS, Dec 17, 2007

New Delhi, India -- With Buddhist sites high on the agenda, India and Sri Lanka Monday agreed on a slew of measures to develop and promote these to attract more tourists from the island nation.

The steps to strengthen bilateral relations in the field of tourism were discussed at a 40-minute meeting between Tourism and Culture Minister Ambika Soni and her Sri Lankan counterpart Milinda Moragoda.

Stressing the importance of historical and cultural ties between the two countries, Soni said the Joint Working Group constituted in 2004 for the purpose will discuss and work out the modalities for the promotion of tourism-related projects between the two countries.

'Sri Lanka can participate more and more in travel fairs and marts to promote tourism related activities between the two countries,' she said.

India is promoting the Buddhist Circuit Tourism in a big way and spots related to Buddhism are being developed not only in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar but also in Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and the northeast, she said.

According to provisional estimates of 2006, 154,813 tourists arrived from Sri Lanka to India. In 2005, outbound tourist traffic from India to Sri Lanka was 113,323.

Moragoda said his country wants India to promote some Buddhist centres in south India as many tourists from his country visit them.

He said he was also looking for investment from Indian hotel chains in Sri Lanka for the construction and promotion of budget hotels.