HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: Frequent strikes across the country have hindered the government’s plan to promote Visit Lumbini Year 2012 by erecting milestones at the local level.
A budget of Rs 15 million has been provided for the event and locals are mainly expected to carry out the promotion campaign.
Publicity campaign at the the international level is yet to be carried out although the Visit Lumbini Year was inaugurated on January 14.
“We have planned to install retro-reflective light radium prints in 108 locations of the country,” said Laxmi Bhatarai, official at the Lumbini Development Trust (LDT). “However, only 35 milestones have been installed due to frequent strikes and closures in the country,” he said. “We are going to complete it within two weeks if there is no strike.”
President Dr Ram Baran Yadav officially inaugurated the Visit Lumbini Year 2012 in Lumbini on January 14 in a bid to spread Gautam Buddha’s message of peace to the world through tourism. Prime Minister Babu Ram Bhattarai had declared the event at a cultural function organised on December 1 in Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha.
According to the Ministry of Federal Affairs, Constituent Assembly, Parliamentary Affairs and Culture (MoFACPAC), a Cabinet meeting last year had approved the plan to mark the year 2012 as Visit Lumbini Year. The event will be jointly organised by the MoFACPAC, the Lumbini Development Trust (LDT) and the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation
“Though late, promotional activities have been carried out in China, South Korea, and Sri Lanka,” said Bhattarai. “The flow of tourists has increased compared to last year,” he claimed.Some 750,000 foreign tourists visited Nepal in 2011 against its target of 1 million visitors during Nepal Tourism Year 2011, according to government sources. Out of a total of 426,250 visitors in Lumbini in 2011, 128,259 were international tourists, 63,079 were Indians and the remaining were domestic visitors.The LDT has estimated a total cost of Rs 130 million for celebrating Visit Lumbini Year. The LDT will bear Rs 110 million while it had asked the government to provide Rs 20 million for the purpose, MoFACPAC sources said.The main objective of the programme is to develop Lumbini as a peace city and a Buddhist centre of the world, MoFACPAC officials said.The Culture Ministry and the LDT have planned to publish postage stamps, organise cultural and peace-related programmes, develop the concept of peace city, inscribe information on Lumbini in different languages and display notice boards depicting Lumbini in major cities and highway intersections across the country.The LDT has formed a 108-member organising committee with Prime Minister Bhattarai as patron and Culture Minister as coordinator, and another 13-member executing committee to mark the event successfully.