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Buddhist Circuit in India

Tourism, if well structured, managed and regulated, has major inclusive potential, given that it is labor intensive for both skilled and unskilled segments, creates backward linkages with other economic sectors, strengthens identity and social capital, promotes small-scale entrepreneurship—especially of poor women and youth—and funds basic infrastructure and services in areas often overlooked by traditional development schemes. There is recognition within South Asia that unleashing the potential of the region’s Buddhist heritage for inclusive development requires a regional-level approach, given that Buddhist assets straddle borders and share common attributes and bottlenecks. As a response, governments in the region requested support from the World Bank in the preparation and implementation of a regional-level program for the development of the Buddhist Circuit in an inclusive manner. The program was launched in 2016 and its implementation began in India, where most places associated with Buddha’s life are located. The lessons learned through this initial implementation will be shared with other South Asian countries with rich Buddhist heritage, such as Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Afghanistan and beyond, in a phased manner. As a program manager on behalf of the World Bank, TSCPL provides Ministry of Tourism, Government of India with technical assistance, analytical work and advisory support to the implementation of actions agreed upon by regional governments, Buddhists and other key stakeholders. At its core, the program focuses on six pillars of action aimed at creating a more immersive and richer experience for Buddhist Circuit visitors and communities alike. These are: (a) Shared brand identity and coherent design guidelines for the revitalization of Buddhist sites and destinations, including a common marketing and branding strategy at the site, destination and Circuit levels; (b) Guidelines for inclusive public investments; (Strategy to engage, incentivize and scale up private investments; (c) Policy and regulatory support to increase private investment; (d) Strategy to generate economic and job opportunities for local communities, especially poor women; and (e) Plan for improved regional connectivity and travel facilitation.

Buddhist Sites

Bodhgaya Where Buddha attained enlightenment

Sarnath Where Buddha delivered his first sermon

Kushinagar Where Buddha attained Mahaparinirvana

Vaishali Where Buddha Ordained nuns for the first time

Sravasti Where Buddha spent 24 rain retreat teaching

Sankasia Where Buddha returned to Earth after teaching his mother

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