India, China exploring possibilities of 'Buddhist circuit'
Beijing, Apr 15: India and China are exploring possibilities of establishing a 'Buddhist circuit' along with Sri Lanka and Nepal for Chinese travellers which could be launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit here next month.
"We are exploring the possibility of Buddhist circuit with Indian officials," Huang Xilian, Deputy Director General of Asian Affairs in the Chinese Foreign Ministry told Indian media here on Wednesday.
"This is visit India year in China so there will be efforts to promote this kind of event," he said in reply to a question as to whether the four countries could organise the event connecting centres in India, Sri Lanka and Nepal.
Last year 1.40 lakh Chinese visited Nepal, an increase of 70 per cent, indicating the popularity of Buddhist places like Lumbini where Buddha was born, he said.
Except India, the numbers of Chinese travellers to South Asia specially to Sri Lanka and the Maldives are rising, he said.
While four lakh visited the Maldives, 1.30 lakh Chinese visited Sri Lanka, an increase of 130 per cent, Huang said.
But at the same time 1.70 lakh visited India which needed special promotions, he said.
India is organising 'Visit India Year' in 2015 to entice a chunk of about 100 million Chinese tourists who visited abroad last year, spending billions of dollars on shopping. China has a large Buddhist population. They are keen to visit Buddhist sites in India like Nalanda, Huang said.
"Hope we can work out a package for Chinese tourists to go to Lumbini in Nepal and other Buiddhist tourist centres like Nalanda in India. It will be attractive for Chinese tourists," he said.