Culture tourism, and Hindu, Buddhist, and Ramayan circuits high on agenda
KATHMANDU, July 6: The 2nd meeting of the joint working group on tourism cooperation between Nepal and India is being held in Kathmandu on Friday.
The meeting of the group -- formed to promote the cooperation on tourism between the two countries after the Nepal visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014 -- is scheduled to discuss on issues related to leave travel concession, overland travel and formation of Indo-Nepal Tourism Forum, among others.
The 11-member Indian delegation is led by the Ministry of Tourism’s Joint Secretary Suman Billa while Ghanshyam Upadhyaya, Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) is leading the Nepali side.
The working group was first mooted during the visit of Indian Prime Minister Modi to Nepal in 2014 through a Memorandum of Understanding on tourism between the two countries. It aims to foster cooperation in the field of tourism as part of making joint efforts to tap the full potential of opportunities available in the sector.
The Nepali team includes representatives from the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), Greater Janakpur Area Development Council, Federation of Nepalese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), Nepal India Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NICCI), Hotel Association of Nepal and Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN), among other institutions.
Apart from officials of the Ministry of Tourism, the Indian delegation includes representatives from Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, Indian Embassy in Kathmandu, Indian Association of Tour Operators and Indian Tourist Transport Association, among others.
“The meeting will discuss on Hindu Circuit, Ramayan Circuit, Buddhist Circuit and adventure tourism, among other issues,” Upadhyaya told Republica.
Tour packages, joint promotion in international markets, improvement in connectivity were some of the issues discussed in the first meeting held in India, according to officials of the tourism ministry.
While the first meeting of the joint working group held its first meeting in 2015, the second meeting had become uncertain for nearly two years. However, the recent visit of the Indian Prime Minister Modi to Nepal, in May this year, when the Ramayana Circuit was launched, gave an impetus to the implementation of the MoU.
During the visit, the two Prime Ministers launched Nepal-India Ramayana Circuit connecting Janakpur, the birthplace of Sita, with Ayodhya and other sites associated with the epic Ramayana. The move was aimed at further strengthening the close religious and cultural ties between the two countries and people. In Janakpur, the two Prime Ministers also flagged off the inaugural direct bus service between Janakpur and Ayodhya.
Even during the visit of Nepal’s then Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba to India in 2017, the issue of cooperation between the two countries was discussed. “The two Prime Ministers hoped that the next meetings of the Joint Working Groups on Tourism, Civil Aviation and Transport Facilitation would be convened at the earliest to carry forward the cooperation to facilitate cultural and tourism links,” read the joint statement issued at the end of the visit.