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One of the places tourists can visit on the Buddhist Train (www.buddhisttrain.com)

China’s outbound tourist numbers are growing at an exponential rate with travellers flying all over the world for shopping, safaris and health treatments.  But when it comes to India, only about 102,000 Chinese people travel there – less than 0.21 per cent of the total number going abroad.  This is a tiny share of the massive $40 billion that is spent overseas each year by Chinese tourists.

 
India Tourism are getting spiritual to help them succeed in the future by launching a campaign which targets China’s fast-growing Buddhist population and asking them to ‘visit India and reconnect with your faith’.

 
The ‘Buddhist Circuit Train‘ stops along several pilgrimage sites in northern India and has been open since 2007.  Over the course of a week it takes travellers to a number of cities related to Buddha’s life from New Delhi to Nepal, where Buddha was born.  India Tourism and the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (ITRCT) are promoting this to Chinese Buddhists as a way to reconnect with their faith in comfort, and hope that it will help the dwindling tourist numbers. Since there are up to 200 million followers of Buddhism in China, if even a small percentage of this number travel to India, it would boost tourist figures dramatically.

 
The campaign launched in China on Monday with Rakesh Tandon, managing director of the IRCTC addressing a number of Chinese tour operators and travel agents.  Mr Tandon assured the audience trains would be “safe and fully air-conditioned”, hoping to put potential travellers minds at ease about the idea of going to India – two of the biggest concerns are lack of safety and the climate.  “India is blessed to have a lot of pilgrimage sites connected with Buddha’s life,” and India Tourism hope that they will be blessed with a bigger chunk of Chinese travellers following this campaign.

 
Original article at: http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/article2650921.ece 

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Michael Kaltenhauser

Founder and director of Astronaut, a marketing agency based in Beijing which is specialized on promoting destinations to Chinese outbound tourists

Laura Hine

Online Communications Assistant at Astronaut