PHDCCI Border Tourism Webinar Highlights Bihars’ Potential for Religious Tourism

Industry Watch | September 9, 2021 | News

PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI) KPMG

PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI) organised its 7th webinar under Border Tourism webinar series on 7 September 2021 focused on Sitamarhi district in Bihar.

During the webinar, Taranjot Singh (IAS), Deputy Development Commissioner – Sitamarhi, Government of Bihar, highlighted the tourist places and said that the district has huge potential for religious tourism as it forms an integral part of the Ramayana Circuit.

Ramayana Circuit is one of 15 thematic circuits identified for development under the Swadesh Darshan scheme of the Indian Tourism Ministry.

Singh added, “The government should tie up with private stakeholders to create a complete tourist package for increasing the number of tourists to the state while uplifting the socio-economic status of the local people. A lot of work is being done to improve the connectivity; however, there is still a huge scope for development in terms of enhancing basic amenities, infrastructure, tourist lodges, meeting halls, etc.”

Rama Kamaraju, Senior Consultant, NITI Aayog, said, “The tourism aspects of the border districts of India are phenomenal. Sitamarhi district is like a ‘Punya Bhoomi’ and shall be visited by thousands of tourists under the Ramayana Circuit. Bihar also has significant number of tribal population which is another USP. The state government can tie up with Tribal Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (TRIFED) for marketing the products made by the tribals end-to-end which can create excellent livelihood opportunities for them while showcasing their talent.”

Sharing details on initiatives taken by the tourism department, Pushkar Srivastava, Event Management Expert – Tourism, Government of Bihar, informed that they have come up with the concept of opening ‘Dhabas’ on all state and national highways. A ‘Dhaba’ complex will be constructed connecting tourist places such as Bodhgaya, Rajgir, Nalanda, Bagha National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary, Sitamarhi and Kaimur, among other places. Each complex will have quality eateries, restaurants, medical shop and parks, apart from basic amenities such as clean toilets, informed an official statement. This is expected to bring significant volume of tourists to the Sitamarhi district while boosting basic amenities in the area.

Srivastava further said that awareness about the rich historic value of Sitamarhi district is crucial for its development and social media is a great tool for spreading awareness as well as for promotion. In terms of infrastructure, he noted that both centre and state governments have been putting a great deal of effort, yet a lot remains to be done.

Lajpat Rai, Chairman and Managing Director, Lotus Trans Travel, said, “The tourism department should encourage the locals first to see their own state as many people have not even visited the popular Bodhgaya yet. Initiatives shall be taken to showcase Bihar to the Biharis first, followed by tourists from neighboring states followed by foreign tourists. Bihar has huge potential for Buddhist Circuit since more than 600 million people follow Buddhism and another 100 million people follow ‘New Buddhism’, hence around 700 million people are already in queue as potential visitors.”

Manvir Singh Thakur, General Manager, Oaks Bodhgaya, outlined the vision to establish a connective infrastructure across the major Buddhist sites in and around Bihar. Even after having an international airport, there are only a few flights that are connected with international destinations, he rued. The railways too has a lot of room for growth in establishing direct connectivity, he observed.

Highlighting tourism potential in the state, Sanjay Sharma, Founder President, Tourism Association of Bihar, said, “Bihar is a multi-faceted destination and has potential for not only religious tourism but also for MICE and leisure. Over the years the connectivity has improved a lot in the state. Districts that used to be affected badly during floods are now approachable and can be visited during monsoons as well.”

He also informed that the tourism department has appointed KPMG to create a roadmap for the development of tourism in the state.

In his welcome address, Pradeep Multani, Senior Vice President, PHDCCI, mentioned that Bihar has a wide range of tourism attractions in the form of religious, heritage and eco circuits. The Department of Tourism, Government of Bihar has to work diligently to achieve its rightful place on the world tourism map, which has not been utilised to the fullest so far, he contended.

Anil Parashar, Chairman – Tourism Committee, PHDCCI, said that among all Indian states, Bihar was most intimately linked to the life of Buddha, resulting in a trail of pilgrimages which have come to be known as the Buddhist Circuit. Efforts should be taken to market this circuit and promote domestic tourism to the state, he added.

Satyajit Kumar Singh, Chair – Bihar Chapter, PHDCCI, suggested creating a task force with government and private stakeholders so as to enhance the image of Bihar as a safe tourist destination.

Rajan Sehgal, Co-Chairman – Tourism Committee, PHDCCI, proposed the formal vote of thanks. The webinar was moderated by Dr. Jatinder Singh, Director, PHDCCI and received participation from senior government officials, tour operators, hoteliers, tour guides, airline professionals, travel and hospitality associations, besides students of tourism and hospitality.

The event was supported by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India with annual sponsors including DLF India, Multani Pharmaceuticals, UFLEX,  JK Tyre & Industries, Marble City, Paramount Cables, SMC Investments and Advisors, Blossom Kochhar Aroma Magic, Comtech Interio, DCM Shriram Industries, Radico Khaitan, R.E. Rogers India, Ajit Industries, Synergy Environics, Continental Carriers, Timberworkz, Jindal Stainless, Modern Automobiles, P S Bedi & Co, IFFCO and Hindware.

The next webinar in the Border Tourism series at 3pm on 24 September 2021 will focus on Manipur’s Chandel district.

Scope for MICE and leisure travel also discussed; KPMG appointed by state tourism department to create roadmap for development.

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