KATHMANDU, June 1 (Xinhua) -- The biggest tourism gala event "Himalayan Travel Mart 2018" kicked off in Nepal on Friday under the theme "Nepal, Gateway to the Himalaya" to promote tourism of this Himalayan country.
Nearly 250 representatives from 37 countries including Nepal are participating in the three-day event organized by Nepal Tourism Board in association with Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Nepal chapter and other tourism related organizations in Kathmandu.
In the first phase of the mart, Nepali Minister for Foreign Affairs Pradeep Gyawali inaugurated the Himalayan Travel Mart Conference organized with a focus on "Sustainable Road to Five Million Visitors."
The Himalayan country is set to organize the year 2020 as Visit Nepal Year where it aims to welcome two million foreign tourists. In 2017, Nepal welcomed 940,218 foreign tourists, mostly from India and China.
"Nepal has prioritized tourism for development and economic growth. As we have entered to the new phase of stability and development, we are committed to bring two million tourists in two years," Gyawali said in his speech.
On the occasion, Chief Executive Officer of Nepal Tourism Board Deepak Raj Joshi said that the event aims to position Nepal as a gateway to the Himalayas, while expressed hopes that the mart will yield a good result for tourism.
Addressing the conference, speakers highlighted that Nepal needs to do aggressive marketing, especially digital marketing, and upgrade infrastructures and services to meet the target.
They also focused on attracting more Chinese tourists as China is the largest tourism source market for Nepal, which surpassed the arrival of Indian tourists in first three months of this year.
Visit Nepal Year 2020 will be the third national level initiative to promote Nepal's tourism sector since the country first celebrated Visit Nepal Year in 1998 followed by the Nepal Tourism Year in 2011.
Besides conference, Himalayan Travel Mart has also featured International Travel Bloggers & Media Conference in the second phase and Buyers & Sellers Meet in the third phase.