Prahlad Patel to attend launch of Visit Nepal 2020

India, Nepal, China plan trilateral tourism expo in February

Published - December 31, 2019 10:00 pm IST - NEW DELHI

India on Tuesday sent Minister of State for Tourism Prahlad Patel for the inauguration of Visit Nepal 2020, the largest economic diplomacy initiative of Kathmandu. The initiative is important as it will open Nepal’s tourism economy which has emerged as an arena of interface between India and China.

“We invited the Minister of Tourism of India and he gracefully accepted our invite. Our aim is to utilise this initiative to generate investment for infrastructure development and also develop the tourism sector that is crucial for Nepal’s economy,” said an official at its embassy here.

40 nations to participate

The inauguration is expected to be attended by Ministers and diplomats from at least 40 countries that will include high-level delegations from India and China. As part of the initiative, India, Nepal and China will hold the first-ever trilateral tourism expo in February.

Nepal, he said, expects more tourist inflow from neighbouring countries and therefore hopes interest will be generated among neighbours about the tourism potential of the scenic country. Nepal’s tourism sector suffered a major setback with widespread destruction of infrastructure in the Himalayan region during the April 2015 earthquake which destroyed many bridges and roads in the mountainous districts.

The tourism sector of Nepal has come into focus of regional diplomacy as both India and China have repeatedly highlighted plans to develop the sector while advancing respective national diplomatic goals. Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his 2014 visit had emphasised the link between the Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu and the Vishwanath temple in Varanasi announcing the plans to connect both countries through the Hindu tourism circuit. In the same way, President Xi Jinping during his October 11 visit announced plans to build road links and infrastructure with Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha. The Visit Nepal 2020 triggered a controversy after it appointed Chinese actor Xu Qing as the goodwill ambassador.

The country is uniquely positioned on the global tourism map as the home of several key Hindu and Buddhist places of worship and the tallest peaks of the Himalayan range.

After Wednesday’s launch of the year-long festivities, 39 diplomatic missions of Nepal will hold events on January 7.

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