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Draft plan on 4-nation tourism development to be ready soon

Our Bureau

Kolkata , Feb. 12

A DRAFT tourism development plan of the South Asian Sub-regional Economic Co-operation (SASEC) is slated to be unveiled at a workshop that is scheduled to be held at Thimpu, Bhutan, in May this year.

India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan come under the purview of SASEC's tourism development plan for the sub-region.

The Planning Team of SASEC's proposed tourism development plan held a workshop here to gather inputs and ideas from stakeholders in the tourism industry. Representatives of the tourism departments of the governments of India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan also participated in the workshop. Presentations made by the participants veered round joint co-operation for tourism development, themes for tourism promotion, marketing, brand-building initiatives, projections pertaining to revenue generation and security concerns.

In the immediate term, SASEC's tourism development plan would focus on sub-regional co-operation activities of the SASEC Tourism Working Group. In the long-term, the focus would be on facilitating tourism and economic growth and reducing poverty. The tourism plan would lay special emphasis on eco-tourism, based on nature and culture, and the Buddhist circuits. The plan would also address issues such as facilitation of travel, development of human resources & infrastructure, encouraging public-private partnership and creating an environment that is conducive for foreign direct investment.

Among the tourist attractions in the four SASEC countries are the world's longest sea beach, mangrove forests, the Himalayas, Mount Everest and sacred Buddhist sites. The region has 1.2 billion people with great cultural diversity.

Tourist arrivals in these four SASEC countries have been estimated at three million in 2003, a growth of 13 per cent over 2002. Revenue generation from tourism has been pegged at $3 billion in 2002, a drop of 4.8 per cent compared with 2001. Existing trends suggest a strong recovery in the future with tourists being offered value for their money, according to participants at the workshop.

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