Bihar ranked seventh among 10 states of the country in receiving the highest number of foreign tourists last year.
The states ahead of it in the list include Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and West Bengal.
Buddhist sites like the Mahabodhi temple at Bodh Gaya, the ruins of ancient Nalanda University and the Stupa at Vaishali, which yielded Lord Buddha’s relic, have remained hot favourites among tourists, particuarly from the Buddhist countries.
Besides, the recently launched cruise tourism in river Ganga, too, has also attracted a number of foreign tourists from Germany, UK and France.
Enthused by the trend, tourism minister Sunil Kumar Pintu said, “Take a look at the footfall of foreign tourists in the state. A ministry of tourism report says, one out of six foreign tourists is heading towards Bihar to visit our historical sites. It also says, that the state received more holidayers from abroad than Goa, which is considered the hotspot among foreigners due to its beaches.”
The minister said, that the number of foreign tourists in the state was expected to cross 10 lakh this year. “More than 8.4 lakh foreign tourists have already visited different historical sites of the state between January and August this year and more are expected in the coming tourism season, which will start from October. In 2011, the total number of international tourists coming here was pitched at 8.78 lakh.” he added.
Pintu said, the latest report showed a more than ten-fold increase in the number of foreign tourists in the last one decade. “Not just that. We have started taking steps to attract more foreign as well domestic tourists. A road show on Bihar tourism was conducted during an international meet at Mauritius last month. And, we have also participated in the ongoing four-day world travel market (WTM), 2012, in London,” he said. Pintu said, out of nine pavilions booked by India tourism, one has been allotted to Bihar tourism to showcase its rich historical background for the benefit of foreigners.