Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Sri Lanka announced a direct flight between Colombo and Varanasi. This is seen as a move to check China's increasing influence on Sri Lanka. The decision was largely welcomed by the Buddhist monks and this decision is likely to boost spiritual tourism.
China has been working to present itself as a central to Buddhist tourism. However the manner in which it has dealt with the Tibet issue, China has been perceived as anti-religious. In this context, Modi's move to promote spiritual tourism with the focus on Buddhists is likely to go a long way in countering the Chinese.
This flight would not only help Buddhists in Sri Lanka reach Varanasi without wasting much time, but also facilitate Hindu pilgrims visit the island nation with ease. Hindu pilgrims often visit places associated with the Ramayana in Sri Lanka. The Buddhists who come to Varanasi from Sri Lanka would also get a chance to visit Bodh Gaya with much ease thanks to this direct flight.
The flight would also ensure that both Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims would have to pay 40 per cent less than what they already used to. Currently the average flight costs between Colombo to UP and Bihar stands at Rs 25,000. However with the introduction of this new flight the prices would drop further as it is a direct flight.