Remarks by Minister for Foreign Affairs Hon. Mr. Pradeep Kumar Gyawali
at the ‘International Forum on Mountain Tourism’ and
Launching Ceremony of ‘International Mountain Tourism Day’
Kathmandu, 29 May 2019
Mr Fu Yingchun, Executive Secretary General
of International Mountain Tourism Alliance
Mr Deepak Raj Joshi, CEO Nepal Tourism Board
Mr CN Pandey, Chairman Nepal Association of Tour and Travel
Agents Mr Yang Shichao, CDA of Embassy of China Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Namaste and a very Good Morning!
First of all, I would like to thank the organizers for inviting me to participate and speak a few words in this ‘International Forum on Mountain Tourism, Nepal’. I am also pleased to learn about the launching of ‘International Mountain Tourism Day’ today.
I extend my congratulations and best wishes on the occasion of Sagarmatha day.
On behalf of the Government of Nepal, I would also like to welcome all delegates to this programme. In particular, special welcome to the international delegates from our friendly countries!
I thank you for travelling all the way to Nepal and wish you a very pleasant and fruitful stay here.
In fact, it is really heartening to learn that this event has brought together experts and tourism entrepreneurs from more than 30 countries. I appreciate the initiative and thoughtful decision of the organizers to host this event on mountain tourism.
I am much hopeful that this broader network stands fruitful in sharing of experiences and expertise, and learning from each-other in the field of mountain tourism.
When asked about his feat of reaching the summit of Mt. Everest on this day back in 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary said, ‘It is not the mountain we conquer; but ourselves’. If we go by what he said, we have come a long way in ‘conquering ourselves’ over the last sixty-six years.
That historic landmark achieved by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa left to us not just an event in the history of mountaineering and adventure tourism but also a way of realizing our potential and understanding our relationship with nature.
Climbing mountains is a process, not an event. Mountaineering in particular and other forms of tourism in general are therefore a process of befriending nature by human beings.
In Nepal, which has eight out of ten tallest mountains on earth, mountains, of course, constitute a fascinating destination for adventure tourism with their majestic beauty and pristine nature.
The history of mountaineering tourism in Nepal dates back to 1950s. Since then, Nepal has always been a life time attraction for mountaineers. Thousands of Nepali nationals and foreigners have already reached the summits of various mountains.
This is a happy story that we all cherish. We are effortful to retain the primacy of our mountains as the centre of global attraction for adventure tourism.
However, the vignettes of man’s scaling up of mountains do not suffice to describe their splendour and beauty.
Mountains are neither fair nor unfair, neither good nor bad, neither friendly nor dangerous. There are ‘just there’ for us to admire and ponder on.
For us in Nepal, mountains are our identity markers and promoters of our image at the international arena. And for everyone interested to know about them, they are most powerful, ‘most awe-inspiring and most unconquerable’. Mountains are the places where legends live and where everything is bigger than life.
Today, we all are concerned about the growing consequences of climate change upon these ‘wonderful gifts’ of nature. It is not simply because of their value in the eco-system but also because of their importance as a source of livelihood and survival for millions of people living downstream.
In the last five decades, rise in global temperatures and a fall in the amount of precipitation in the mountain region have led to mountain glaciers shrinking by over 30 percent. This comes as a strong reminder that mountains are not at all immune to the climate assault.
In this context, a major challenge before us is to implement our resolve to preserve mountain ecology in the larger interest of mankind. It is imperative therefore that we all take concrete actions before it is too late.
It is not least in realization of this fact that mountains and issues concerning their promotion and conservation have received priority in the policies and programmes of the Government of Nepal.
The new policies and programmes of the Government of Nepal for 2019/20, for example, emphasize the promotion of tourism sector with proper utilization and conservation of topographical diversity including mountains.
This is in line with the SDG goal number 15.4 that relates the need for conservation of mountain ecosystems, including their biodiversity, for sustainable development.
Given the country’s topography and landscape, Nepal has abundant prospects for touristic activities such as mountaineering, trekking and travel, among others. In addition to the mountains, the ever flowing Himalayan rivers, glaciers, large lakes, green valleys, beautiful waterfalls and the national parks are the major attractions for tourists visiting Nepal.
Tourism has been an important sector of Nepal’s economy. It, like in any other developing country, has been playing a very significant role in poverty reduction. It has also contributed to employment and income generation with its linkages to different sectors of the economy.
We remain effortful in attracting more quality tourists to Nepal. Visit Nepal Campaign 2020, which will be run with a goal of bringing in two million tourists, is one such effort. Of course, mountain tourism will be, as always, a major priority in our Campaign.
To conclude, I am confident that the deliberations in this programme will add value to our continued efforts towards promoting sustainable mountain tourism. I am equally confident that it will help enhance our understanding of mountains and our relations to them.
I wish this International Forum all success!
I thank you all for your kind attention.