Bihar smoothes out connectivity issues to grow pilgrimage market

THE Bihar state government will expand Gaya Airport and dole out incentives to airlines to facilitate a boost in pilgrimage traffic to Bodhgaya, a religious site believed to be the place where Buddha obtained enlightenment.

The state government will offer incentives such as lower tax on aviation fuel, and reduced landing and parking charges to attract more airlines to fly into Bodhgaya.

Sunil Kumar Pintu, tourism minister of Bihar said: “Our government will offer all kinds of assistance to airlines who come forward to connect Bodhgaya with other cities, including international destinations.”

Currently, connections to Bodhgaya are operated by Thai Airways from Bangkok, Druk Air from Paro (Bhutan), Myanmar Airways International from Yangon, Mihin Lanka from Colombo, and Air India from Yangon, New Delhi, Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh) and Kolkata.

Panithan Vongkerd, director, Gen-Y Tours Bangkok, said: “Expansion of Bodhgaya Airport will attract more airlines and also increased flights from carriers already offering services to (Bodhgaya). The demand for religious tourism to the birthplace of Lord Buddha is always increasing.”

Overseas arrivals to Bihar rose from 94,000 visitors in 2006 to 970,000 in 2011, accounting for 18 per cent of total foreign arrivals to India last year.

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