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Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Culture & Tourism Shripad Yesso Naik has launched the Strategy for Integrated Tourism Development of the Buddhist Circuit in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar ‘Investing in the Buddhist Circuit’ in New Delhi. Speaking on the occasion the minister said this iconic route includes places where the Buddha actually spent time and these sites – all of which are over 2000 years old – are among the most significant and revered by the Buddhists. The Buddhist Circuit is an important pilgrimage destination for the 450 million practicing Buddhists as well as travellers interested in history, culture or religion.

Naik said that, as the Governments have defined resources, the strategy will enable mobilising additional resources for the development of the Buddhist Circuit from the private sector in a sustainable manner. The strategy aims at infrastructure development, skill development, increased market access, involvement of communities and enhancing the visitors’ experience.

He further added that his ministry will be organising the fourth International Buddhist Conclave in Bodhgaya and Sarnath from 26 to 28 September 2014 in association with the State Governments of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to promote Buddhist heritage. Through this event, the Ministry of Tourism will try to devise new business strategies for marketing Indian Buddhism Heritage.

For the promotion of Buddhist heritage and sites of the country, the Ministry of Tourism regularly carries out promotions in the domestic and overseas Buddhist source markets. The Ministry also organises road shows, invites tour operators and media on familiarisation trips to the Buddhist sites, holds exhibitions and produces literature on Buddhist heritage. The Ministry also organises International Buddhist Conclaves at an interval of every two years for which international tour operators, opinion makers and media personalities as well as Indian stakeholders are invited with the aim to encourage inbound tourism to the Buddhist sites in the country.

Investing in the Buddhist Circuit, the strategy for the development of Buddhist Heritage in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, is the result of combined initiative of the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India; the State Governments of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, the private sector; Buddhist monasteries and sects, and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) an arm of the World Bank.

The Buddhist Circuit is a route that follows in the Footsteps of Buddha from Lumbini in Nepal where he was born, through Bihar where he attained enlightenment to Sarnath and Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh where he gave his first teachings and died.

Parvez Dewan, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism said that the strategy provides an integrated framework to fast-track tourism growth on the circuit by focusing on critical challenges and opportunities along the destination value chain which will serve as a guiding framework for investment in tourism development on the circuit over the next five to ten years.

Bihar’s Tourism Minister Dr. Javed Iqbal Ansari and UP Tourism Minister Om Praksh Singh were also present during the launch.

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