Foreigners to shell out $1 for visiting Bodh Gaya

Foreigners to shell out $1 for visiting Bodh Gaya

“The cess has been planned to ensure better facilities to tourists,” said nagar panchayat vice-chairman Dinesh Singh. The visiting tourist can pay the tax in any foreign currency, which will be collected by the hotels, guest house and monasteries. A receipt will be issued to the tourist on behalf of the civic body.

Tourist hub

Situated around 110 km from Patna, Bodh Gaya is one of the most important pilgrimage sites for Buddhists. It’s here that Lord Buddha attained enlightenment. Thousands of tourists, comprising mostly Buddhists from Japan, China, Sri Lanka, Thailand and other South Asian countries, visit Bodh Gaya year after year.

According to figures available, the number of foreign tourists visiting Bodh Gaya jumped from 73,882 in 2008 to 96,103 in 2010. But this will be for the first time that a “tourist tax” will be levied on the visiting foreigners.

“The cess collected will be utilised to provide better amenities. We not only plan to construct shades and toilets for them but will also install street lights, hand pumps and improve cleanliness drive,” said Singh.

The earnings as tourist tax will be in addition to the fund provided by the Centre as well as the state government to the civic body. According to an estimate, the state government had allocated Rs 30 lakh, while the Centre had earmarked Rs 18 lakh to the nagar panchayat under various schemes during the 13th Five Year Plan.

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