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Boosting the Buddhist Circuits
 

It has been observed religion/Spiritualism is the main purpose of travel, but untapped markets remain

As per a survey conducted by International Finance corporation in this sector

• 72% of international tourists, and 60% of domestic, traveled to the Buddhist Circuit for spiritual/religious reasons.

• 6o% of international tourists came from countries where Buddhism is historically a dominant religion.

• Increasing influx of tourists from non-Buddhist countries. More North Americans (51%) said they were religious tourists than Japanese (44%) or Chinese (49%).

• Very few domestic visitors from outside UP & Bihar.

Temples, historical relic’s main attraction while results also indicate interest in other activities

• Most popular activities were visiting temples/stupas, and offering prayers followed by visiting museums and historical relics – regardless of the primary purpose of travel.

• 40% of international tourists engaged in visiting villages and attending festivals

Patterns of Travel: Extended length of stay, good potential for repeat travel

• 85% of international tourists visit the entire Circuit Main entry points: Bodhgaya (49%) and Sarnath (32%)

• International tourists stay between 5 to 13 days, versus 2 to 10 days for domestic tourists.

• 25% of international and 38% of domestic travelers was repeat visitors. The highest incidence of repeat travel (30%) was from Thailand, Sri Lanka, Japan and Myanmar.

Package tours overwhelmingly popular for international visitors

• 69% international tourists liked to plan their travel Sarnath & Bodhgaya exhibit a different trend, where 54% and 42% respectively had no prior booking

• 31% of international tourists travel without prior booking.

• Among package tourists, Japanese tend to stay longer; among independent tourists, Burmese and Thais do.

• The Internet (32%) is the main source of awareness for international tourists. Other important sources are travel literature (31%) and word of mouth (28%)

• Word of mouth is the main source of awareness for domestic tourists (56%), followed by travel literature (25%) and newspapers (21%).

Sub-circuit within the Buddhist Circuit: Sarnath Kushinagar

• Majority of foreign tourists in Sarnath come from Western countries as compared to other sites, where most of the tourists come from Buddhist countries.

• Tourists in Sarnath leisure and entertainment as primary motivation for their visit.

• Most tourists traveled independently to Sarnath while Kushinagar is mostly visited on packaged tours.

• Repeat travel is lowest in Sarnath and highest in Kushinagar among all the sites.

• Visitors to Kushinagar also visited Sarnath. A visit to Sarnath does not necessarily indicate a trip to Kushinagar.

Sub-circuit within the Buddhist Circuit: Bodhgaya – Nalanda – Rajgir

• Budhgaya receives only a small percentage of package tourists as compared to Rajgir and Nalanda. Rajgir only site which heavily on tour operators for awareness.

• Rajgir & Nalanda falls under middle of the trip category whereby 56% of domestic tourists and 70% of foreign tourists visit the sites in the middle of their trip. 58% of all tourists visit only Bodhgaya.

• Most of the domestic in Rajgir and Nalanda come from nearby cities

Service Quality Issues among Tourists

Most Satisfactory Parameters                   Unsatisfactory Parameters

• Friendliness of the people                           Availability of medical facilities

• Personal safety                                           Sanitation

• Access to temples                                       Facilities for children

Accessibility of historical heritage sites                   Quality of roads Convenience and access to local transport

Apart from this, International Tourists were found to be less satisfied/ dissatisfied with additional parameters

Less Satisfactory Parameters                         Unsatisfactory Parameters

• Interpretation/Signage at Temples                 Availability and quality of local transport

Interpretation of historical heritage sites                  Visitors information Telecommunication

• Availability of national cuisine                        Shopping opportunities

Some hypotheses for discussion – need for further testing

• The Unique Selling Proposition of the Buddhist Circuit is unquestionably spiritual; potential to focus on activities that enhance the spiritual/religious experience.

• Aside from the pull of Bodh Gaya, there may be considerable potential for Sarnath as a gateway to the Buddhist Circuit, especially for non-Buddhist visitors.

• Travelers cite frustrations with the practicalities of road and rail travel

• East and Southeast Asia are the main international markets, but there are other niche markets (e.g. North Americans/Europeans on a spiritual journey)

• The Buddhist Circuit holds significant potential for visits of the long duration and repeat travel.

 

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