People-to-People Contact was included as an area of cooperation during the First BIMSTEC Summit held on 31 July 2004 in Bangkok, Thailand. The Second BIMSTEC Summit held on 13 November 2008 in New Delhi, India tasked India to take the lead in establishing a BIMSTEC Network of Policy Think Tanks (BNPTT). The Third BIMSTEC Summit held on 4 March 2014, Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar committed to expanding efforts in people-to-people contact exchanges and linkages including facilitating travel through BIMSTEC Visa Scheme and BIMSTEC Visa Exemption Scheme. At the BIMSTEC Leaders’ Retreat held in Goa, India on 16 October 2016, the leaders reiterated their commitment to promote people-to-people contact in the Bay of Bengal region by creating a deeper understanding and trust across the region.
In the Fourth BIMSTEC Summit held in Kathmandu, Nepal on 30-31 August 2018, the leaders resolved to promote people-to-people contacts at various levels and directed the relevant agencies to finalize the terms of reference (ToR) of the BNPTT. They also agreed to explore the possibility of establishing appropriate BIMSTEC forums for parliamentarians, universities, academia, research institutes, cultural organizations, and the media community to expand the scope of people-to-people contact sector.
The Seventeenth BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting held virtually on 01 April 2021 in Colombo, Sri Lanka recommended the rationalization and reorganization of sectors and sub-sectors of BIMSTEC to the Fifth BIMSTEC Summit for adoption. Accordingly, the reconstituted sectors and sub-sectors of cooperation were adopted in the Fifth BIMSTEC Summit held on 30 March 2022 in Colombo, Sri Lanka where, Tourism, Culture and People-to-People Contact Forums were added as the Sub-Sector under the People to People Contact Sector. Later, Poverty Alleviation, as one of the Sub-sectors, was added during the Nineteenth Ministerial Meeting held on 09 March 2023 in Bangkok Thailand.
Institutional Mechanism :