`Nepal Tourism Year` launched to boost foreign visitors

Nepal’s Prez launched `Nepal Tourism Year 2011` at a grand function in the capital.

Kathmandu: Nepal’s President Ram Baran Yadav
on Friday launched `Nepal Tourism Year 2011` at a grand function
in the capital to attract more foreign visitors and boost the
economy, which is still reeling under the impact of a decade-
long Maoist insurgency that ended in 2006.

Top Nepalese leaders, including Prime Minister Madhav
Nepal and chief of main opposition Maoist party Prachanda
attended the function in the heart of the capital.

The launch of the tourism year also coincided with a
SAARC Tourism Ministers Conference. Tourism Ministers from
Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bhutan along with Tourism
Secretary from India and representatives from other member
states also attended the function.

Addressing a gathering of over 25,000 people at the
Dasharath Stadium, caretaker Prime Minister Nepal said the
campaign will promote Nepal as a peaceful, safe and one of the
best tourism destinations in the world.

"We are focusing on the development of tourism to
generate more employment so that our youths need not go abroad
for jobs," he underlined.

He said the government will give priority to building
infrastructures and developing packages so as to attract more
investment.

He said the government will specially focus on the
neighbouring markets of India and China to promote tourism
during 2011.

Tourism Minister Sharad Singh Bhandari underlined the
need for "economic revolution through tourism".

"After achieving political revolution, now we will
focus on economic revolution through tourism," said Bhandari.

He said tourism aims to change the face of the country
and enhance Nepal’s international image.

He said boost in the tourism sector will lead economic
revolution as the country moves forward towards peaceful
transition after the decade-long insurgency.

Air show, cultural and ethnic pageants along with
traditional musical bands were part of the grand function.

The tourism sector is the largest foreign exchange
earner for the country. It was expected that with the end of
the Maoists-led insurgency in 2006, the country`s tourism
sector would get a boost.

However, the country has been faced with political and
economic instability that has impacted the tourism sector.

More than six months after the 22-party coalition led
by Prime Minister Nepal collapsed, 16 rounds of Parliament
vote has failed to elect a new leader.

Maoist supremo Prachanda and CPN-UML president
Jhalanath Khanal vowed to promote tourism as a national
priority and refrain from launching any crippling strikes,
agitation and protests during the year.

A record number of tourists flew to Nepal last year,
with most of the growth coming from its two giant neighbours
India and China, according to official figures. Nepal aims to
bring in some 260,000 tourists from India during the year.

Nepal aims to attract one million tourists. The Nepal
Tourism Board said the arrival of some 500,000 foreign
visitors at the country`s only international airport in 2010,
15 per cent more than in 2009, showed tourism had recovered
from a decade long insurgency that ended in 2006.

The number is expected to cross 650,000 when visitors
traveling overland are included.

PTI

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