The Embassy/Permanent Mission of Nepal in Geneva organized a special programme in Ittigen-Bern, Switzerland, on Tuesday to mark the 5th International Mt. Everest(Sagarmatha) Day as part of promotional activities under economic diplomacy.
Organized at the prestigious venue of the Swiss Olympic in cooperation with the Non-Resident Nepali Association (NRNA) Switzerland, Swiss-Nepalese Society and the Nepali Social Concern Forum (NESCOF), the programme included comprehensive presentations on different aspects of Mt. Everest, adverse impacts of climate change on mountain ecology, sustainable mountain development agenda as well as tourism potentials of Nepal. Participated in by a large number of Swiss travel agents, tour operators, travel writers, journalists, mountaineers, and representatives of NRNA and other Nepalese organizations, the programme also included the sharing of experiences by Swiss mountaineers who climbed Mt. Everest, presentation of cultural performances by the Nepalese artists based in Switzerland and the dinner with Nepalis cuisine.
In his welcome remarks, Shanker D. Bairagi, Ambassador/Permanent Representative of Nepal to the United Nations in Geneva, said that Nepal has been celebrating International Mt. Everest Day each year on 29 May since 2008 in recognition of enormous contributions made by Mt. Everest to Nepal's tourism industry and with the objectives of drawing the attention of all towards maintaining the mountain environment and promoting Nepal as a world-class mountain destination.
Terming the day on which Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa first conquered Mt. Everest on 29 May 1953 as a landmark event in the history of mountaineering and adventure tourism, he said that Mt. Everest is an identity carrier of Nepal and a promoter of our image internationally. It is even more than that, as an integral part of great Himalayan range, a constant source of fresh water for a large number of people living downstream. Stating that this kind of unique combination can hardly be found in any other single world landmark, he said that's why Mount Everest deserves to be treated differently and with priority it deserves.
Ambassador Bairagi further said that as we live in an interdependent world which is full of complex challenges, climate change has emerged as one of the greatest challenges of our time. It is affecting everything and everybody everywhere. Like oceans, mountains are also bearing the brunt of climate change, as is evidenced in the melting of glaciers at an alarming pace and the bursting of glaciers, causing huge destruction, both material and human. Recognizing the contribution of tourism sector to our economy, our challenge is to retain the primacy of Mt. Everest as the centre of global attraction in terms of adventure tourism, while at the same time, building international consensus on the preservation of mountain ecology that will help maintain ecological balance and help protect Mt. Everest and the entire Himalayan range from the onslaught of climate change, he said.
Highlighting the similarities between Nepal and Switzerland, both mountainous countries, he expressed happiness that both countries have been working very closely to promote sustainable mountain development agenda in various global forums.
Counsellor of the Embassy of Nepal in Geneva Bhrigu Dhungana made a comprehensive presentation on different aspects of Nepal-Switzerland relations; features of the Himalaya; and effects of climate change on mountains and efforts being made at international, regional and national levels to address them. While highlighting the significance of International Mt. Everest Day, the presentation also covered the features of Mt. Everest, climbing rules and procedures, climbing routes as well various remarkable records and achievements made to date on climbing.
Highlighting the encouraging tourist arrival figures in recent times, the presentation also covered other touristic attractions existing in Nepal besides mountaineering. While reflecting the commitment of the Government of Nepal for the development of the tourism sector as well as distinct policies and incentives offered by it, the presentation also covered various aspects of the ongoing Visit Lumbini Year 2012 so as to further project Lumbini's significance as the birthplace of Lord Buddha. The guests were invited to visit Nepal and enjoy innumerable attractions that Nepal offers to them with utmost hospitality.
Speaking at the programme, President of NRNA Switzerland Dr. Binaya Shrestha highlighted on the need to develop tourism sector in Nepal so as to alleviate poverty and called on the Swiss nationals to cooperate in the development of the Nepalese tourism sector. He also read out the statement on behalf of Markus Ruckstuhl, President of the Swiss-Nepalese Society, wishing the success of the programme.
Sanjay Mudbhary, Founding President of NRNA Switzerland and the coordinator of the cultural programme from Geneva and Heera Bal Gurung, General Secretary of NRNA Switzerland and the President of NESCOF also addressed the programme.
Swiss mountaineers Peter Gschwendtner and Mischu Wirth shared their experiences of successful climbing of Mt. Everest.
All the speakers and the participants applauded Embassy/Mission's initiative in hosting the International Mount Everest Day programme for the first time in Switzerland and expressed hope for its continuation in the future.
During the staging of the cultural programme, dance items were presented by Nita Kapur and Deepak Khatiwada. Similarly, flute recitals were made by Jean Denis Jaquet as well as Dharma Gurung, Deepak Khatiwada and Ram Pariyar.
The venue was decorated with Nepalese national flags, the artifacts depicting Nepalese art and culture as well as the pictures of Mt. Everest.
The programme was conducted by Hari Prasad Odari, Second Secretary of the Embassy of Nepal in Geneva. He also proposed the vote of thanks at the end of the programme. nepalnews.com