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Nepalese put hope in growing tourism

Christian heads drive to attract visitors to ease economic woes

Nepalese put hope in growing tourism
Nepal’s Miss Tourism Queen Samriddhi Rai at her parish grotto in Godavari
Amid ongoing political turmoil and acute energy shortages, frustrated Nepalese are hoping an increase in tourism this year will bring then some peace and prosperity.

A 17th round of voting recently failed to elect a new prime minister and frequent strikes and power cuts continue to plague the country. But despite this Nepal aims to attract 1 million tourists during “Nepal Tourism Year 2011.”

That’s certainly the hope of Nepal’s Miss Tourism Queen, Samriddhi Rai, a parishioner from Godavari parish in Kathmandu.

“For many tourists, visiting Nepal is also a pilgrimage either to Lumbini [Buddha’s birthplace] or to Pasupatinath (the holiest temple of Hindu god Shiva, or to the mysterious Himalayas,” she told ucanews.com.

“Young people here are really frustrated with the government. They think the Nepal Tourism Board which launched this year’s drive should do more to bring in tourists rather than make statements or put up a few billboards,” the 23 year old Catholic journalism graduate said.

“A greater effort has to be made to improve infrastructure like our only international airport or banning crippling strikes. Individuals and the private sector can play a great role -- even churches.

“I am scheduled to represent Nepal at the Miss Tourism Queen International beauty pageant in Guangzhou in March. But I have to pay for my own airfare,” she lamented

“To address our frustrations some of us have started a video blog on YouTube to promote Nepal,” said Rai, who is also a member the women’s national basketball team.

Nepal’s Apostolic Vicariate, Bishop Anthony Sharma is also hoping for an upturn in tourism this year.

“We’re praying for a consensus among political parties so the aim of attracting at least 1 million ‘guests’ to Nepal can be realized, he said

“I also feel hopeful we will see progress in our Church too,” he added.

Related reports
Nepal youths want clear guidance from Church
Nepal learns to cope in a world without rain

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