Lucknow, Oct 18 (TNA) The stage is set for the inauguration of the much-awaited Kushinagar International Airport by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 20.
The grand inauguration ceremony of the airport, which is being seen as a major conduit in the Buddhist circuit to boost tourist inflow, will be attended by Sri Lankan President Lt Colonel Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and a host of dignitaries, including ambassadors of around 15 countries to India.
The airport will also witness the arrival of its maiden international flight from Colombo with the president and a 125-member delegation accompanying him on board, including Buddhist monks and pilgrims on the occasion.
With the opening of Kushinagar Airport, the inflow of international tourists as well as outbound tourism are expected to increase by 15 to 20 percent in the coming years, because of its strategic location near Buddhist sites in both Uttar Pradesh and north Bihar.
The airport will facilitate hassle-free movement of tourists from countries with sizeable Buddhist population in East Asia and South-East-Asia to the six Buddhist sites in Uttar Pradesh located in Kushinagar, Sarnath and Shravasti because of its better connectivity to these places, as well as Buddhist sites located in north Bihar.
In Bihar, Kesaria stupa, the largest Buddhist stupa in the world, and Vaishali are not far from Kushinagar and those willing can cover these sites in one visit with the opening of Kushinagar Airport.
Earlier, the entry point for the Buddhist Tourists in India were Kolkata, Delhi, Gaya & later Varanasi, which are situated far away from one another. Besides, due to lack of air connectivity, it was time taking and most tourists could not even think of completing the circuit in one go. Now, with the opening of Kushinagar Airport foreign tourists can complete their pilgrimage in considerably less time.
Spread over an area of 590 acres, the International airport at Kushinagar boasts of world-class facilities. The eight-storied state-of-the-art Air Traffic Control (ATC) tower built at the cost of Rs 17.5 crore, has become fully operational at the airport whereas the navigation system for safe landing and take off of flights at the airport has passed the trial successfully.
Meanwhile, a large workforce is being trained to enhance tourists’ experience under the Ministry of Tourism’s Incredible India Tourist Facilitator Programme. These collective efforts are expected to boost the tourism sector in the region and will generate direct and indirect employment for thousands of people.
According to tourism industry experts, the Kushinagar International Airport will give a fillip to the development of Eastern UP with aviation, tourism and hospitality industries set to boom.
The Buddhist circuit in India, including sites located largely in eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are a big draw for Buddhist pilgrims, particularly from East Asia and South-East-Asia. However, the flow of tourists has severely been affected lately due to a novel coronavirus pandemic.
According to the programme on October 20, Prime Minister Modi, President Rajapaksa and the accompanying delegation as well as Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath will also visit the Parinirvana (nirvana-after-death) site of Lord Buddha at Kushinagar.