KATHMANDU, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- The first Buddhist International Travel Mart (BITM 2019) kicked off on Friday in Nepal's Lumbini, the birth place of Lord Buddha.
The three-day event was inaugurated by Nepali Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Rabindra Adhikari in the Sacred Garden of Lumbini amid the presence of ministers, high-level government officials, monks, foreign delegates and tourism entrepreneurs.
Addressing the event, Adhikari said the travel mart is a "good platform to promote Lumbini, Buddhist Circuits and Visit Nepal Year 2020."
Under the theme "Explore the Buddhaland Nepal," the global travel mart aims to promote the Buddhist sites, spreading the message that Nepal is center for world peace.
The international event comes at a time when Nepal aims to prepare a uniformed package of Buddhist circuit across the globe.
According to the organizer, there is a plan to develop a domestic Buddhist circuit covering Lumbini and Devdaha of Rupandehi, Tilaurakot, Kudan, Sagarhawa and Niglihawa of Kapilvastu and Ramgram of Nawalparasi district.
Similarly, they have planned to create an external circuit covering sites in India.
"We believe that such events will be helpful to establish Lumbini as a premiere spiritual destination and to attract more Buddhist tourists in the Himalayan country," Deepak Joshi, CEO of Nepal Tourism Board, told Xinhua.
He expressed hope that Nepal will be able to welcome more tourists after the completion of construction of Gautam Buddha International Airport, which is some 20 km away from Lumbini.
The event further aims to create a platform for interaction between organizations, tour operators and agencies that specialize in this sector.
The event features Buddhist conferences, interaction programs and B2B sessions, among others.
Lumbini, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, attracted over 1.5 million tourists in 2018.