By A Staff Reporter,Kathmandu, Sept. 28: Nepal marked the 44th World Tourism Day with various events on Wednesday. The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Department of Tourism, Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) and other sector-related bodies and organisations organised programmes across the country to celebrate the occasion.
In the morning, Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Sudan Kirati welcomed tourists who arrived at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport on the first flight of the day. He, along with other officials of his ministry, NTB and other tourism organisations greeted them upon their arrival in Nepal.
The Ministry also organised a rally from Patan Dhoka to the Patan Durbar Square in collaboration with the Lalitpur Metropolitan City (LMC) to mark the day. The rally culminated in a formal programme at the Durbar Square.
Speaking at the programme, he stressed the importance of aeroplanes in bringing tourists to the country and assured that the government would procure planes in an accountable and transparent manner. He also expressed dissatisfaction with NTB and said that he would make the Board active to promote tourism.
Stating that culture, nature and adventure sports were pillars of Nepal's tourism, Minister Kirati called for amending the nation's development policy to prioritise culture and environment.
Several individuals and organisations that have contributed to Nepal's tourism were honoured at the event, as were organisations that earned the most foreign currency.
The tourism businesses Seven Summit Treks, Sita World Travel, Everest Hospitality and Hotel and Resort, and Pokhara Ashtra were honoured for earning the most foreign currency. Similarly, mountaineers Kristin Harila and Tenjen Sherpa, who hold the record for the fastest ascent of all 14 peaks of the world higher than 8,000 metres, were also felicitated.
In Bhaktapur, the Bhaktapur Municipality feted one Australian and 16 Indian nationals as the first tourists to enter the city on World Tourism Day. They were given traditional Bhadgaunle caps and pouches by the municipality, Bhaktapur Tourism Development Committee, Bhaktapur Tour Guide Management Committee and the Tourism Police.
Similarly, the first five tourists who entered Nepal through the Belahiya border crossing were also given a grand welcome.
The Lumbini provincial unit of the Nepal Association of Tour and Travel Agents (NATTA), security agencies and locals welcomed the five Japanese tourists Tam Nguyen, Thue Dao, Aan Nguyen, Lune Lam and Hwang Thrung with Dhaka caps, red Tikas and Khada scarfs.
Rachana Pant Bhattarai, president of NATTA Lumbini, said that the Association would hold various programmes over the coming days, with one of the main events being the welcoming of cyclists coming from Kathmandu at Jitgadhi on Saturday.
The same day, the Lumbini Development Trust and the Lumbini Hotel Association also welcomed Chinese and French tourists who came to Lumbini, the birthplace of the Lord Buddha.
NATTA Lumbini also organised a Maha Aarati ceremony at the Durga Temple in Golpark, Butwal Sub-Metropolitan City–3 on the eve of World Tourism Day on Tuesday. The Aarati was held on the banks of the special Tinau River.
Meanwhile, Bharatpur Metropolitan City, which has already announced 2023 as its tourism year, announced various programmes to bring tourists to the city on Tuesday. Mayor Renu Dahal said that the metro would also identify new tourist destinations and work with the private sector to develop infrastructure.
Mayor Dahal said that the city planned to relocate some tigers, rhinos and other animals to the Bandevi Barandabhar Community Forest in Devnagar to lure visitors.
Likewise, she shared the metro's plans to open the Diyalo Bangalow, where King Mahendra died, to visitors.
In the first eight months of this year, 601,360 foreign tourists have come to Nepal by air, as per the data maintained by the Department of Immigration.
This year's World Tourism Day was celebrated all over the world under the theme 'Tourism and Green Investment'.
(With inputs from our Bhairahawa correspondent Laxman Paudel, Butwal correspondent Chhabilal Pandey and Narayangadh correspondent Basanta Parajuli)