Shutdowns or bandas as they are called in Nepali are a common feature in Nepal. Last year the country witnessed 831 bandas called by various parties and the first two months of 2010 have witnessed 74 of them.
In recent years, sudden shutdowns called by outfits on diverse grounds have hurt the country’s image as a tourist-friendly destination and affected the tourism industry—the backbone of Nepal’s economy.
But in a major relief to tourism officials, 19 political parties have committed not to call strikes and shutdowns during 2011, which is being celebrated as Nepal Tourism Year.
Nepal’s tourism industry, which saw a rough patch due to the country’s civil war and political instability, is aiming to resurrect itself with NTY 2011 by doubling the number of foreign tourists to a million in one year.
Prachanda Man Shrestha, CEO, Nepal Tourism Board stated that written commitments from parties like Nepali Congress, CPN (UML), UCPN (Maoist) and most Madhesi outfits would help achieve that target.
The commitment by the country’s main opposition party UCPN (Maoist) that has been responsible for most shutdowns in past years was termed as a “big achievement” by Shrestha.
The official launch of NTY 2011 was done on Friday by Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal in Kathmandu by lighting a peace torch brought from Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha.
Tourism secretary Nagendra Ghimire informed that although tourist arrivals in 2009 in Asia and across the world decreased by 4 and 2 percent respectively due to recession, Nepal witnessed a 2 percent growth.