Tourism is one of the 14 sectors of cooperation since the inception of BIMSTEC in 1997. This sector is led by India.
The First Roundtable and Workshop of Tourism Ministers held in Kolkata, India in February 2005 adopted the Plan of Action for Tourism Development and Promotion for the BIMSTEC Region. The Plan of Action included setting up of BIMSTEC Tourism Information Center, BIMSTEC Tourism Fund, conduct of tour packages etc.
The Ninth BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting held in New Delhi, India on 09 August 2006 underlined the need to establish BIMSTEC Tourism Information Centre and BIMSTEC Tourism Fund to facilitate joint activities within BIMSTEC Member States. Accordingly, the BIMSTEC Information Centre has been established at New Delhi, India.
The Second BIMSTEC Tourism Ministers’ Roundtable and Workshop held in Kathmandu, Nepal on 29 August 2006 agreed to establish a BIMSTEC Tourism Working Group to follow up the progress on Plan of Action. The Working Group consisting of representatives of National Tourism Organizations and private stakeholders of tourism industry from all Member States would decide on the programme priorities, expenditure of BIMSTEC Tourism Fund, preparation of concrete proposals and to follow up the progress on the Plan of Action. Accordingly, the First Meeting of BIMSTEC Tourism Working Group held in India on 23 September 2013 decided to set up the Tourism Fund with one-time contribution of by each Member State which will be supporting the activities approved by the Tourism Working Group. The BIMSTEC Tourism Fund is being administrated by the BIMSTEC Information Centre.
Acknowledging the civilizational, historical and cultural linkages in the region, the Leaders of the BIMSTEC at the Goa Retreat in October 2016, recognized the rich potential for development of tourism and reiterated their keen interest in taking concrete steps to promote intra-BIMSTEC tourism including specialized tourist circuits and eco-tourism. In particular, the Leaders encouraged the development of Buddhist Tourist Circuit and Temple Tourist Circuit within the region.
The 17th Session of the BIMSTEC Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) held in Kathmandu, Nepal on 07 February 2017 agreed to create a Network of Tour Operators among the BIMSTEC Member States to promote tourism in the region including the Buddhist Tourist Circuit and luxury cruise.
According to the decision of the 17th SOM, India hosted the First Meeting of the BIMSTEC Network of Tour Operators in New Delhi on 07 July 2017. The Meeting recommended to formulate a common marketing strategy such as creation of a BIMSTEC brand for tourism, to develop a common Website for promotion, to hold annual BIMSTEC Travel Mart/Conclave, to develop and share a common safety protocols for adventure tourism, to enhance Public-Private Partnership for promotion of Tourism in BIMSTEC and to hold BIMSTEC Annual Convention on Tourism.
Sri Lanka and Bangladesh will host the Second and Third Meeting of BIMSTEC Network of Tour Operators in 2018 and in 2019 respectively.
The Second Meeting of BIMSTEC Tourism Working Group and the Third BIMSTEC Tourism Ministers’ Roundtable are expected to be held in Bangladesh in 2017.