Lumbini sees rise in number of Chinese tourists

The number of Chinese tourists visiting Lumbini - the birthplace of Lord Buddha - has been growing steadily over the past few years. According to Lumbini Development Trust (LDT), a total of 13,300 Chinese tourists visited Lumbini in the first nine months of 2014. Lumbini had welcomed 8,598 Chinese tourists in 2012 and 13,561 in 2013. As more than 13,000 Chinese tourists have already visited Lumbini till September, officials say the number will grow further in 2014.

India, Sri Lanka and Thailand are the major tourist generating market for Lumbini. But officials say Chinese tourists will soon outnumber tourists from Thailand and Sri Lanka within a few years.

Rajan Basnet of LDT's Information Division said the number of Chinese tourists has been growing for the past few years. "This is the peak tourist season and flow of Chinese tourists has increased remarkably," Basnet said, adding, "Total Chinese arrivals will be higher this year compared to past year."

According to LDT officials, number of tourists from Sri Lanka is on the decline. A total of 27,378 Sri Lankans have visited Lumbini till September. In 2013, Lumbini had welcomed 35,425 Sri Lankan tourists. The number of Sri Lankan tourists visiting Lumbini was 52,671 in 2012.

The number of tourists from Thailand is likely to drop this year, according to the officials. Altogether 14,100 Thai tourists have visited Lumbini till September. In 2013, 30,694 tourists from Thailand had visited Lumbini. Lumbini had welcomed 28,480 Thai tourists in 2012.

Officials say drop in the number of Thai tourists is due to political tensions in Thailand.

Foreign tourists visit Lumbini mostly in the months of February, March and November. Though the number of tourists from other countries drops significantly in June and July, the number of Chinese tourists is almost the same throughout the year.

A total of 83,277 foreign tourists have visited Lumbini till the end of September. Lumbini had welcomed a total of 125,400 and 136,000 tourists in 2013 and 2012, respectively.

Similarly, the number of Nepalis visiting Lumbini has reached 516,000 till September. A total of 539,200 and 573,500 domestic tourists had visited Lumbini in 2012 and 2013, respectively.

Meanwhile, tourism entrepreneurs of Lumbini of the number of tourists visiting the birthplace of Lord Buddha will increase significantly once Gautam Buddha International Airport comes into operation.

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