As a step in that direction, the state tourism department has invited request for qualification (RFQ) and request for proposal (RFP) from reputed consultancy firms and consortia for selection as a consultant to prepare a comprehensive project report, bid document and concession agreement for the Development of an International Airport at Kushinagar and the Integrated development of Buddhist Circuit covering at least six Buddhist sites of UP in PPP mode on Design Built Finance Operate Transfer (DBFOT) basis.
Speaking to FE, GP Tripathi, joint director tourism said, The move is to promote the Buddhist circuit, which includes Sarnath, Sravasti, Kapilvastu, Kaushambi, Sankisa and Kushinagar. The circuit is a big draw among Buddhists pilgrims, particularly from East Asia, South-East-Asia and South Asia and yet tourism prospects in the area suffer a great deal to the lack of infrastructure facilities. As a result, an international airport at Kushinagar is seen as highly necessary to cater to the traffic originating from Japan, China, Taiwan, Myanmar, South Korea, Bhutan, Singapore, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Nepal.
At present, the state government owns an airstrip at Kushinagar and nine tourist complexes with some appurtenant land in the Buddhist circuit.
The main task of the consultant would be to create world-class tourist infrastructure and facilities in the Buddhist circuit with the aim to increase the number of visitors and enhance the visitor experience and spread the benefits of development to the surrounding areas.
In order to realise the full potential of the Buddhist circuit, the consultant would be expected to conduct studies as to whether Kushinagar is suitable for the development as an international airport, whether Kapilvastu, where the state government already owns 98 acres of land, is suitable for the development of mega tourist complexes alongwith a golf course etc, review the existing infrastructure as well as constrains to the growth of tourist traffic, both domestic and international, review policies regarding international aviation bilaterals, exchange rate controls, import/export regulations etc, to assess any changes, modifications that may be required in the Indian context and also identification of the basic requirement of a multi modal (air, rail, road) tourist/passenger and cargo port, its system of functioning and the method of operation of the same.
It would also be required to suggest additional potential places on the Buddhist circuit for development as tourism complexes.
It shall also identify airlines which could be interested in locating their base in Kushinagar and tap the possibility of locating a flying club, aviation institute and aviation maintenance institute at Kushinagar. In short, the consultant needs to approach this project keeping in mind the infrastructure and economic development of the entire region and therefore suggest a methodology to develop a multi-modal connectivity to all the areas that have tourism potential in the region, said Tripathi, adding, It would also assess the infrastructure facilities and logistic supports that would be required on the air and land sites for all Buddhist destination and passenger traffic and also suggest an action plan to realize the full benefits of Maitreyi Project that is to come up in the area. It shall especially focus on the advantages of the Kushinagar site for raising non-aviation revenues through the commercial use of surrounding land.