Number of visitors to Lumbini in 2012 increased, but failed to reach target number

KATHMANDU – Nearly 760,000 visitors, including foreign and domestic, visited Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, in western Nepal, during Lumbini Visit Year 2012.

The government had targeted to bring one million visitors during the period.

Records at the Lumbini Development Trust (LDT) show that the visitors to Lumbini increased by 29.9 percent this year compared to previous years. However, the number of foreign visitors did not increase.

In 2011, 128,259 people from 89 countries visited Lumbini, the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

During LVY 2012, 136,146 tourists from 90 different countries visited Lumbini.

However, the number of local and the Indian visitors increased significantly.

According to LDT, 113,195 Indian tourists visited Lumbini in 2012 while their number was only 63,709 in 2011.

Similarly, the number of domestic visitors increased in 2012 to 590,073 from 395,570 in 2011.

According to Haridhoj Rai, Information Officer at the LDT, among the tourists from the third countries, the highest number came from Sri Lanka.

He said 51,348 Sri Lankan tourists visited Lumbini in 2012.

Similarly, 23,166 tourists from Thailand, 14,279 from Myanmar, 7,422 from China, 4,819 from South Korea, 26,021 from the Netherlands and 16,048 from Japan visited Lumbini during LVY, 2012.

However, Abhisekh Lama, a member of LDT, claimed that the largest number of tourists came to Lumbini from China in 2012.

According to him, the visitors’ record of LDT was not properly updated.

Arrivals from Japan decreased by 20 percent while the number of the Chinese tourists increased by 40 percent in 2012.

Despite increasing number of domestic tourists, the hotel business of Lumbini remained almost stable during the VLY, said Lilamani Sharma, secretary of Lumbini Hotel Association.

According to him, total transaction in the 21 small and medium hotels of the area stood at Rs. 100 million during the LVY. However, no record of transaction of six big hotels was shown.

The government had announced Visit Lumbini Year-2012 in a hurry without managing necessity arrangements and it cannot lure the targeted visitors, he said.

Due to the power cut, ATM and internet services were badly affected. Most of the visitors could not stay here more than one day owing to lack of facilities, informed Sharma.

Last year, some visitors were forced to go to Bhairahawa and Butwal to get better hotels but this year most of them stayed in Lumbini, he added.

Temwo Sherpa, Planning Officer of LDT, expressed his happiness for a large number of domestic tourists visited the site even by canceling their fixed programme.

Sherpa hoped that the number of visitors would increase due to the publicity drive of LVY.

The government had announced 2012 as Lumbini Visit Year for the promotion of the birth place of Gautam Buddha.

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