Representative image. Photograph:( Reuters )
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's decision to offer free visas to Myanmar citizens has led to an increase of the travelers by more than 10% in 2017 as compared to 2016.
The decision of free visas was announced on September 6, 2017.
Addressing a maiden tourism promotional event in Myanmar's Yangon, Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism Rashi Dubey said that the Myanmar visitors are more likely to visit Bodh Gaya, the famous Buddhist pilgrimage site in Bihar.
"Most visitors from Myanmar are going to Bodh Gaya", said Dubey adding that in 2017 more than 50, 000 Myanmar pilgrims visited the annual Bodh Gaya festival adding over 20,000 tourists since the previous year.
About 30,000 Myanmar pilgrims visit the annual Bodh Gaya festival,  but in 2017 more than 50,000 pilgrims went to India, according to the ministry.
There is also an opportunity for India’s northeastern region, which is close to Myanmar, and the land route border crossing is likely to open in two places to allow Myanmar travellers to visit, she said.
Myanmar citizens have been traveling to India not only for the purpose of pilgrimages but also for medical tours and holidays in the Himalayas.
Increase in tourism from Myanmar would indirectly help in the promotion of north-eastern states as favourable tourism destinations because of their geographical proximity to the former.
In the coming months, land routes border crossing are likely to open between the two countries, which could help increase tourism traffic, Dubey noted.
She said,"This is a good opportunity for the people between the two countries to engage with each other and look at the business opportunities for sending tourists from Myanmar to India or India to Myanmar."