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Weekly Official e-Newsletter of Nepal Tourism Board

In this Issue :

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Nepal Tourism Board facilitates the visitors attending Sita-Ram Vivah Festival (Vivaha Panchami)
Climate+Change Exhibition Begins
Heritage Walk on December 21
Pandey and Kasai appointed as Goodwill Ambassador of Lumbini Development Trust
Nepal uses satellite to track rare snow leopard
Surf Internet while traveling
International tourism an engine for the economic recovery

Nepal Tourism Board facilitates the visitors attending Sita-Ram Vivah Festival (Vivaha Panchami)

Nepal Tourism Board in association with Tourist Guide Association of Janakpur (TURGAJ) and Janaki Temple Management Committee set up a facilitation desk for the travelers / pilgrims attending the festival. The facilitation desk helped thousands of travelers / pilgrims by providing the information about the festival, tourism attraction of Janakpur and Bideh Mithila Region. The desk also assisted the travelers / pilgrims by setting up the 'lost & found' unit which even made their trip to Janakpur convenient.

Vivah Panchami is an auspicious date dedicated Lord Ram and Goddess Sita – it is observed as the divine marriage day of Bhagavan Sri Rama and Mata Sita. It is observed on the fifth day of the Shukla Paksha or waxing phase of moon in the Margashirsh month (November – December). This year the main day was December 7.

Hundreds of thousands of devotees arrive in Janakpur, the capital of ancient Mithila, to celebrate the Vivah Utsav of Goddess Sita and Lord Ram. The day is of great importance at the famous Janaki temple of Janakpur which is regarded as the birth place of Goddess Sita. Sita-Ram Vivaha Festival (Vivaha Panchami) is celebrated with special importance as per the description in Ramayan composed by Goswami Tulasidas by the Mithila people to commemorate the wedding of Goddess Sita, the daughter of King Janak with Lord Ram, son of King Dasharath of Ayodhya (now in India). The festival is to commemorate the wedding in the Treta Yuga and is regarded as the largest festival in the region. People believe that their dreams get fulfilled after participating in the wedding festival ceremony.

The devotees pay homage to Ram, Sita and Janak after taking holy dip in sacred ponds like Gangasagar, Dhanushsagar and Maharajsar on the premises of the Ram-Janaki temple.

The idols of Mata Ram and Goddess Sita are brought out in bright processions and their Hindu wedding ceremony is enacted at Janaki temple in the evening. The wedding takes place during an exciting week-long religious fair. The occasion also attracts thousands of Indian pilgrims. It is evident that the faith towards Goddess Sita and Lord Ram is not only limited to Nepal and India but also in Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia and one province in Thailand is named as Ayodhya.

Mani Raj Lamichhane, Manager of Nepal Tourism Board, after participating and observing the festival commented that Janakpur could be promoted round the year targeting not only the pilgrims from India and surrounding but also could also be promoted as the cultural destination for the researcher / observers to learn about the ancient Mithila Cultures, arts and artifacts. The region could also be promoted as the Centre of Mithila Art and Culture by linking it with the domestic and international tourism as the demand for it is on high side in the national and international arena. 

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Climate+Change Exhibition Begins

A host of dignitaries including Satya Mohan Joshi, noted cultural expert and David Breashears opened five month long  dynamic exhibit exploring the effects of climate change on the communities and ecosystems of the Hindu Kush Himalayan region on December 11, 2013 at the Nepal Art Council in Kathmandu. The exhibition has featured science and imagery from the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and striking photography from David Breashears and GlacierWorks that showcase the rapidly changing Himalaya and highlight solutions being implemented in the region.

Stunning imagery, text, and interactive elements will invite visitors to investigate the challenges faced by our natural landscapes, ecosystems, and human communities in the face of climate change across several national boundaries. The exhibit will also provide a unique opportunity for students and teachers in Nepal to engage with and be inspired by science. With support from UNICEF, in-depth educational materials and teacher resources will be available so that students and teachers can take lessons from the exhibition back to the classroom. Contents of the exhibition will also travel to remote areas of Nepal through the first ever Book Bus of Nepal. This initiative of the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu will deliver books, electronic technology, and special programming to rural communities across the country. Through this program, the exhibition aims to inspire a broad understanding and spark dialogue among various sections of society on the challenges facing this iconic region. It also aims to facilitate the development of new and innovative solutions to these challenges.

The exhibit features three floors of galleries that will transport visitors from the Kathmandu Valley to some of the highest peaks in the world. The ground floor gallery focuses on challenges in our urban areas related to climate change and urban sprawl. It showcases the science behind issues like black carbon and Kathmandu’s worsening air quality, water shortages, diminishing water quality, and population expansion. Using case studies from Nepal and across the region, the middle floor will demonstrate how cooperation across borders is addressing the risk of natural hazards and the conservation of ecosystems. On the top floor, breathtaking, large-scale photography from GlacierWorks invites visitors to explore the changing Himalayan landscape in and around Mount Everest, and scientific explanations will help visitors better understand the complexities of glaciers on the rooftop of the world. In addition, a photo story explores the diverse perspectives of people living in this extraordinary region.

Each month, new programs and events will engage visitors on various topical issues that revolve around the exhibition. They are designed to provide a space where visitors can engage with each other and discuss their ideas on how to tackle urgent issues facing the region. The events are designed to encourage active engagement of all visitors and the production of new ideas and insights into this region.

The exhibit is being organized by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and GlacierWorks. It is being funded by the ICIMOD Foundation, the Embassy of the United States in Kathmandu, Nepal, and UNICEF, with support from Nepal Tourism Board and Nepal Art Council. Thinc Design, based in New York City, is responsible for the overall design and curation of the exhibition, and photo.circle is responsible for the local curation and management of the exhibition. It will remain open from 11 December 2013 until 13 April 2014.

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Heritage Walk on December 21

Ganeshman Singh Academy in collaboration with Nepal Tourism Board and Kathmandu Metropolitan City is organizing  “Heritage Walk” on 21st December, 2013. The Heritage walk is a collective initiative of Nepal Tourism Board, Ganesh Man Singh Academy, Kathmandu Metropolitan City and Constituient Assembly member Mr. Nabindra Raj Joshi with an objective of raising awareness about local cultural and traditional heritage in Kathmandu city which is listed in UNESCO World Heritage Site. A large turnout is expected as this event is aimed at renewing appreciation of Kathmandu’s heritages site and boosting tourism in Kathmandu. It starts at 8:30am and the route is as follows:

Basantapur Shiva Parbati Dabali—Hanuman Dhoka—Kaal Bhairab—Mahendreshwor Bhagwan Pashupati—Yatkha Damai Tole—Kankeshwori—Bishnumati Bridge—Dallu Ganeshthan—Dhimelo—Bhagwan Pau—Swayambhu.

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Pandey and Kasai appointed as Goodwill Ambassador of Lumbini Development Trust

Lumbini Development Trust has appointed Mr. Bikram Pandey, a noted tourism entrepreneur and promoter of Buddhist tourism and Mr. Norbu Kasai, the investor of Kasai Hotel in Lumbini as Goodwill Ambassador of Lumbini from January 2014 to January 2015 for one year on December 16, 2013.  In a letter signed by Mr. Ajitman Tamang, Member Secretary of Lumbini Development Trust, they have been entrusted the responsibility of Goodwill Ambassador to promote Lumbini, birthplace of Lord Buddha, Buddha’s hometown Kapilvastu, The Ramagrama virgin Buddha’s relic stupa, previous Buddha Krakuchanda’s birthplace Gotihawa and Konakmuni Buddha’s home town Nigli Sagar and other places related to  Buddha.

It is believed that it will empower them to promote these Buddhist sites officially as representatives of Lumbini Development Trust. “Buddhist Tourism has a huge international market and we need to promote it vigorously to attract Buddhist pilgrims in Lumbini. Though I have been promoting it personally for last ten years, this appointment has given me an added responsibility,” says Bikram Pandey. Mr. Bikram Pandey has been promoting Buddhist Tourism since last ten years in the international Buddhist market. 

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Nepal uses satellite to track rare snow leopard

Wildlife experts in Nepal are tracking a rare snow leopard by using a collar with a satellite link to discover how climate change and human encroachment are affecting its habitat, officials said Wednesday, December 18.

The male cat was captured in a snare at the base of Mount Kangchenjunga on the Nepal-India border last month and fitted with the collar which uses a GPS tracking system.

"This will be a milestone in exploring the impacts of climate change and human activities on the animal's home," said Megh Bahadur Pandey, director general of the parks department.

"The radio collaring of the snow leopard will help us understand its habitat," he said.

Climate change is causing temperatures to rise, meaning snow leopards must move further up mountain slopes where prey is scarcer and making it tougher for them to find food, experts say.

Snow leopards also face threats from hunters who kill them for their luxuriant spotted coats and livestock owners who see the cats as a threat to their animals.

Snow leopard bones and body parts are also used for traditional Asian medicine.

The five-year-old leopard, which has been fitted with the collar, has been named Ghanjenjwenga after a 7,774-meter (25,505 feet) mountain in northeastern Nepal.

Scientists are receiving data on its location and activities every four hours from the collar.

Globally, the snow leopard population is estimated at 4,080 to 6,590 adults, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which lists the animal as "endangered".

Experts believe just 300 to 500 adults survive in Nepal. Few claim ever to have seen the solitary so-called "mountain ghost", which lives 5,000 to 6,000 m (16,500 to 20,000 feet) above sea level.

A team of 10 Nepali and foreign conservationists trekked for five days to reach Kanchenjunga Conservation Area which is home to some snow leopards.

The expedition was carried out with the help of global wildlife organization WWF.

Three more snow leopards will be fitted with the collar by next year, said Maheshwar Dhakal, a national parks ecologist. ( News courtesy: AFP)

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Surf Internet while traveling

There is good news for netizens traveling to Kathmandu and Chitwan from Pokhara and vice versa as the tourists´ buses have started providing Wi-Fi services for free.

Pokhara based Mountain Overland Tours and Travels have started offering free Wi-Fi Internet service based on Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX) technology via Nepal Telecom (NT).

The six buses operated by the travels are offering free Wi-Fi services to its passengers inside its buses. “We are providing free internet service to all the passengers, be it locals or foreigners,” said Som Thapa, operator of the bus.

Thapa added that the internet service will help passengers stay connected while they travel. “Not only that our buses are so comfortable that they can even carry out their office or personal works in their laptops or other devices while they travel,” Thapa said.

The buses use NT´s WiMAX service of 256 Kbps to provide the internet to its passengers throughout the journey. The internet is available in places where there is WiMAX connectivity along the highway.

Thapa said that there are some disturbances along the route and in such cases the internet will be reconnected. “Passengers might be bored while traveling long route so they can overcome this boredom by browsing the internet,” Thapa added.

Foreign passengers will be highly benefited from this service, he claimed. “As the foreigners tend to upload pictures in the internet instantly they take during the travel, this service might also help promoting Nepal´s tourism,” Thapa hoped.

The bus operators have also arranged power back-up system in order to provide uninterruptible internet connectivity throughout the journey.

Rajesh Regmi, sales chief of NT, Pokhara said this service has been provided to the tourist buses from Pokhara for the first time. There are enough base stations along the routes of Pokhara-Kathmandu and Pokhara-Chitwan highway that ensures smooth connectivity.

“Except a few places the wimax connection is available in most parts of these highways,” Regmi said, adding that they are also mulling providing similar service in the city buses of Pokhara. 

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International tourism an engine for the economic recovery

In the first nine months of 2013, international tourism grew by 5% according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. The number of international tourist arrivals reported by destinations around the world increased by some 41 million between January and September, growing above UNWTO’s initial forecast and creating an important stimulus to the receiving economies.

International tourist arrivals grew by 5% in the first nine months of the year, to reach a record 845 million worldwide, an estimated 41 million more than in the same period of 2012. Growth was driven by Europe and Asia and the Pacific, both seeing tourist numbers increase by 6%.

“International tourism continues to grow above expectations, supporting economic growth in both advanced and emerging economies and bringing much needed support to job creation, GDP and the balance of payments of many destinations” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. “It is particularly encouraging to see the strong results in many European destinations, where the tourism sector is, undoubtedly, one of the engines of the economic recovery”.

Europe beats expectations

In Europe, the world’s most visited region, international tourist arrivals grew by 6% led by above-average results in Central and Eastern Europe (+7%) and Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+6%). This growth exceeds the initial forecast for 2013 and is double the average growth rate of international tourism in Europe since 2000 (+2.7% a year between 2000 and 2012).

Asia and the Pacific (+6%) continued to show robust results, bolstered by South-East Asia (+12%).

The Americas (+3%) reported comparatively weaker results, with better performance in North America (+4%) and Central America and (+3%).

In Africa (+5%) growth was fuelled by the recovery in North Africa (+6%), while the Middle East saw only a marginal increase (+0.3%).

Growth in tourism receipts confirms positive trend

The positive trend registered in international tourist arrivals is reflected in international tourism receipts reported by destinations worldwide for the first six to ten months of the year.

Among the 25 largest international tourism earners, receipts saw double-digit growth in ten destinations - the United States (+11%), Macao (China) (+10%), the United Kingdom (+18%), Thailand (+28%), Hong Kong (China) (+21%), Turkey (+13%), India (+13%), Japan (+23%), Greece (+15%) and Taiwan (Pr. of China) (+12%).

Exponential growth in outbound expenditure by China and Russia

Among the top ten source markets, the Russian Federation led growth, with expenditure on trips abroad up by 29% in the first nine months of the year. This follows the strong growth in recent years, as a result of which Russia has moved up from the 12th largest outbound market in 2000 to the 5th largest in 2012 (US$ 43 billion).

China, which became the number one source market in the world last year (US$ 102 billion), also continued to see rapid growth, posting a 22% increase in expenditure on outbound tourism through September 2013.

Outbound expenditure from other BRIC economies was also strong in Brazil (+15%). The performance of advanced economy source markets was comparatively weaker: Canada (+3%), the United States (+2%), the United Kingdom (+2%) and France (+2%) grew moderately, while Germany reported zero growth and Japan, Australia and Italy saw declines in expenditure.

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Photo of the week
Wish you a Merry Christmas.

Upcoming Events

Christmas Day

Date: December 25, 2013
Venue: All over Nepal, 2013

Tamu Lhosar

Date: December 30, 2013
Venue: All Over the Nepal



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Editor: Sarad Pradhan
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Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) has sought to ensure that the contents of this newsletter are accurate at the time of transmission. NTB does not accept responsibility for any damage, loss, injury or inconvenience arising in connection with the contents of this newsletter. Nepal Tourism Board wishes to thank all stakeholders for their wonderful support and assistance for promoting Nepal as a happening destination. We request all tourism industry stakeholders to send us news and articles at mediacenter@ntb.org.np , ssubedi@ntb.org.np or ntbmediacenter@gmail.com to include them in the weekly E-newsletters.