ADB supports sub-South Asia region's efforts to develop prime tourism sites

20:24, November 16, 2009      

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The Asian Development Bank supports the development and improvement of infrastructure and services forkey tourism sites in the sub-South Asia region, the Manila-based multilateral funding agency said Monday.

"Efforts by India, Bangladesh and Nepal to take advantage of the tourism potential of their rich natural and cultural attractions, including many of the world's major Buddhist sites, are getting support from the Asian Development Bank (ADB)," the bank said.

The ADB Board of Directors Monday approved a total of 57.5 million U.S. dollars in grants and loans for the "South Asia Tourism Infrastructure Development Project" which, it said, will also help strengthening the capacity of sector agencies to sustainably manage and protect tourism sites.

The project will target transport and other infrastructure upgrades and will improve water supply, sanitation and solid waste management services to enhance the environment at key sites, said the ADB statement.

It said steps will be taken to increase involvement by local communities in the tourism sector.

"Tourism plays an important role in the regional economy and this project will benefit around 2.4 million people through increased income and employment, health and environmental improvements, and reduced travel time," said Gulfer Cezayirli, Principal Urban Development Specialist in ADB's South Asia Department.

She said, "The project features a sub regional approach to tourism development that will bring wider benefits than a single country approach, and will help spread jobs and income to areas currently bypassed by existing tourism markets."

"It includes a program to ensure that poor and remote communities have the knowledge and skills to take advantage of new tourism opportunities," she was also quoted as saying in the ADB's news statement dispatched to Xinhu Monday.

Along with ADB's loans and grants, the governments of the three countries and the (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) OPEC Fund for International Development will provide the balance of the project cost of 89.5 million U.S. dollars, the ADB statement said.

It said India will receive a loan of 20 million U.S. dollars equivalent from ADB's ordinary capital resources. Nepal will receive a grant of 12.75 million U.S. dollars, and a loan of 12.75million U.S. dollars equivalent, both from ADB's concessional Asian Development Fund (ADF). Bangladesh will receive a 12 million U.S. dollars equivalent of ADF loan.

According to the ADB, the project executing agencies are Nepal's Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation, India's Sikkim State Department of Tourism, and Bangladesh's Department of Archaeology, Ministry of Cultural Affairs. The project is due for completion by September 2014.

Countries in the sub-region, including India, Nepal and Bangladesh have formed a working group for collective action to tap the synergies of their complementary tourism sites in order to expand tourism, it said.

But the bank said development has been hindered by limited connectivity to sites, inadequate infrastructure, and a lack of capacity by sector agencies to develop and manage key destinations.

South Asia, one of the poorer regions of the world, has many renowned natural and cultural attractions, including the world's highest mountain and the Sacred Garden in Lumbini, Nepal, where Buddha was born, the Rumtek Buddhist Monastery in India's Sikkim state, and ancient monasteries and temples in western Bangladesh, said the ADB.

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in the Asia and Pacific region through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration.

Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members - 48 from the region. In 2008, it approved 10.5 billion U.S. dollars of loans, 811.4 million U.S. dollars of grant projects, and technical assistance amounting to 274.5 million U.S. dollars.

Source: Xinhua
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