Kathmandu, Nepal has made a grand formal launch of the Visit Nepal Year 2020, an annual campaign aimed at attracting 2 million foreign tourists this year.
President Bidya Devi Bhandari made the formal launch of the campaign by torching the ‘Light of Unity’ and unveiling the official mascot of the campaign ‘Yeti’ – an enigmatic snowman which is believed to live in the high Himalayas.
The inauguration ceremony at the Dasharath Stadium was a confluence of various cultures, music, dances, religions and activities. It started with the chanting of Vedic mantras and hymns of various religions. Local bodies of the Kathmandu Valley, various social and business organisations, educational institutions, cooperatives, banks, business houses and government agencies took part in the parade which was full of cultural and musical performances of various ethnicities.
A musical fusion by the Kutumba band vibrated the stadium while the parade was proceeding.
President Bhandari stressed on greater collaboration and cooperation among all the parties of tourism. “I have confidence that both the government and private sector stakeholders will cooperate in promoting the natural and other attractions in Nepal in the international markets,” she said. “This is an event that demands a national unity.”
Maintaining that the VNY2020 would give a new impetus to the social and economic development in the country with the transfer of ideas and experiences, she said that Nepal should be more competitive in the days to come.
“Tourists were coming to Nepal on their own so far, but if we have to incentivise it with the announcement and promotion of new destinations and tourism products because tourists always search for new destinations and taste,” said President Bhandari.
According to her, the country had the capacity to attract every kind of tourists and culture of ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ (guests are like gods) is inherent to Nepali behaviour.
She underscored the need of eco-friendly infrastructure and tourism products in order to boost the sector by attracting more tourists.
Cine star Rajesh Hamal welcomed the guests and foreign ministers and delegates and said that Nepal was a country that could offer tourist destinations for people of different interest round the year. “Nepal is a country where you can watch Himalayas while sleeping under a mango tree,” he said. Hamal also urged all stakeholders and people to be proactive in serving the guests and tourists so that they go back with positive message.
Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Yogesh Bhattarai said that the VNY2020 programme was launched with a new zeal, new energy, new enthusiasm and new expectations.
“However, since we say that tourism is the main pillar of Nepal’s economic development, the target of two million tourists and this programme itself is not adequate,” he said. “Thus, we will consider this year as the beginning point for tourism development as it will create a new psychology for development,” he added.
According to him, tourism has contributed about 3 per cent to national economy and it will be raised to 10 per cent by the time the current 15th plan concludes. Similarly, foreign tourists have been spending US$ 44 each a day which should be increased to $80.
Minister Bhattarai invited one and all to visit Nepal saying that it had 20 protected areas covering 23.23 per cent of the total area of the country and it had seven Unesco World Heritage Sites, including the world-famous Sagarmatha and Chitwan National Park, Swaymbhunath and Bauddhanath stupas, temples and Durbar Squares in the Kathmandu Valley.
“The country is fit for tourism in terms of culture, heritage, nature, flora and fauna, mountains, Himalayas and adventure activities. We will create a new benchmark in tourism and will create a new image of Nepal in the hearts and minds of the people across the globe,” he said.
Speaking on the occasion, Indian Minister of Tourism Prahlad Singh Patel said that India had seen Nepal as a true and strong partner in development and tourism. He pledged support to the VNY2020. “Nepal is a major tourist destination for the Indian tourists so there are areas where the two countries can collaborate,” he said.
Similarly, Jamaican Tourism Minister Edmund Barlett said that Jamaica and Nepal shared the common realities of vulnerability like the earthquake so the tourism entrepreneurs and the government must be aware to maintain resilience. Source: The Rising Nepal.