Nepali Ambassador highlights role of direct air connectivity at Lumbini and Beyond event

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The late former UN Secretary-General U Thant took a key role in the development of Lumbini.

Ambassador Mr Harishchandra Ghimire emphasized the pivotal role of direct air links from Yangon and Mandalay to Gautam Buddha International Airport, Bhairawaha so that Myanmar Buddhist people can observe a sustainable Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha at an “Interaction Programme on Buddhist Pilgrimage to Lumbini and Beyond” held on 11 December 2022 at the embassy premises.
The tourism industry is reviving after mass vaccination against Covid-19. Nepal is an attractive destination for Myanmar people including the role played by the then UN Secretary-General U Thant for the development of Lumbini, Myanmar people of Nepalese Origin (Gurkha) residing across Myanmar and connecting traditions, religions and culture. As nearly 90 per cent of Myanmar people are Buddhist, they want to visit Lumbini at least one time in their life. Nepal is a perfect blend of nature, culture and adventure in the world. The young generation will like it, the ambassador continued.
He stated that financial incentives were provided by the Government of Nepal to the airline companies for making direct flights to Bhairahawa. Nepalese Embassy is ready to cooperate and coordinate for business delegations and their business contract on direct air connectivity, tourism and trade promotion, he highlighted.
The embassy is planning more promotional programs such as the exchange of delegations, cooperation between universities and establishment of sister city relations.
After the opening remarks, Ambassador Mr Ghimire introduced Lumbini and surrounding Buddhist pilgrimage sites through a PowerPoint presentation. Explaining the possible tour packages to Lumbini and beyond involving trekking, mountaineering, jungle safari and zip-line, paragliding and bungee jumping, he urged the travel and tour companies to explore the business opportunities in this sector partnering with Nepalese counterparts.
U Maung Maung Myint, Chairman of the Bodhgaya Committee shared his opinion that it would be easy for pilgrims if Kyat is allowed to be paid for visa fees amid the dollar crunch in the domestic forex market.
“We were eager to expand networking and consider Lumbini as a lucrative destination. We viewed supply and demand conditions to run a commercial flight or chartered flight. The rigorous advertisement regarding different sacred Buddhist places in Nepal, promotions of tourism sites, adventure tourism, and collaboration between travel and tour companies in both countries will contribute to enhancing existing Nepal-Myanmar tourism relations,” Cho Mar Nwe, Head of Sales Department of Myanmar Airways International said.
The representatives from travel and tour companies also shared their experiences and raised concerns such as visa issues, Covid-19 related health protocols and other matters.
Present at the event were Sagar Ghimire, president of All Myanmar Gurkha Hindu Religious Association, Mr. Nanda Ram Neupane, Patron of Myanmar Nepal Friendship Association and All Myanmar Gurkha Hindu Religious Association, Mr Devendra Naulakha, President of Non-Resident Nepali Association, Myanmar, Mr Mange Ram Agarwal, President of Myanmar-Nepal Chamber of Commerce & Industry, U Maung Maung Myint, Chairman of Bodhgaya Committee, Cho Mar Nwe, Head of Sales Department of Myanmar Airways International, representatives from travels and tours companies and the media outlets.
In the programme, a vote of thanks was delivered by Second Secretary Ms Ganga Sundas and the programme was conducted by Third Secretary Mr Prashant Thakur of the Nepalese Embassy to Myanmar.
About 200,000 Gurkha are living in Myanmar, primarily in Mandalay and the majority of them return to Nepal during festivals and occasions. They are good sources of potential travellers.
In 2018, before the pandemic, about 50,000 pilgrims and tourists visited Nepal from Myanmar. — KK/GNLM

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