Nepal observes National Day of Visible Tourism.

Nepal observes National Day of Visible Tourism.

On Saturday, March 30th, 2024, Hotel The Nanee in Bhaktapur became the vibrant hub for celebrating National Accessible Tourism Day in Nepal.

In cooperation with the Nepal Chapter of the World Tourism Network, the International Development Institute (IDI), Four Season Travel and Tours, the Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Center (SIRC), and the Nepal Tourism Board, discussions, interactive panels, and a heritage walk through the historic Bhaktapur Durbar Square was on the program giving this day importance.

According to the World Tourism Network Nepal chairman, Pankaj Pradhananga, the event was a resounding success in its mission to advocate for accessible tourism for persons with disabilities. Nepali Sign Language interpretation (SLI) and captioning were available at the event.

The day began with a memorable heritage walk of Bhaktapur Durbar Square.

Bhaktapur is one of the cities of Kathmandu Valley that was a city state in ancient times. This plaza in front of the royal palace of the old Bhaktapur Kingdom is called Durbar Square and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Despite the limited damage to the temples in the square, one of the collapsed structures is the Batsala Devi temple. This stone temple is unquestionably a smaller version of the Krishna Mandir temple in the nearby city of Patan. It features a three-stepped base, a colonnade comprising of fourteen octagonal pillars, and eight architectural elements above its cornice. These elements consist of octagonal turrets resembling miniature temples at the corners, along with four small pavilions on each side.

The structure is an intricate tower known as Shikhara, crowned with pinnacles called amalakas, kalasha, and a trident. Bhupatindra Malla erected it in the late seventeenth or early eighteenth century. This temple is dedicated to the goddess Batsala Devi, likely a manifestation of Durga, as indicated by the goddess’s image in the pavilion above the main entrance.

This immersive experience, led by Dipesh Rajopadhyaya, set the tone for the day, emphasizing the importance of making cultural landmarks accessible to all.

Following the walk, a distinguished panel took center stage, comprising Sushil Adhikari, a disability-rights activist; Suman Ghimire, Manager at Nepal Tourism Board; Shreeti Shrestha, a Software Engineer; and Pankaj Pradhananga, Director at Four Seasons Travel and Tours and Chairman of WTN Nepal.

Moderated by Nripa Devkota, Program Coordinator at IDI, the panel delved into the fundamental notion that every individual deserves equal opportunities to participate in leisure activities and explore new destinations. Kanak Mani Dixit, founder of SIRC, gave a welcome address, while Esha Thapa emceed the program.

Discussions revolved around the transformative power of accessible tourism, not only in terms of fostering social integration and cultural exchange but also in driving economic growth by tapping into new market segments. The panelists underscored the imperative of incorporating accessibility measures into tourism infrastructure to create a more inclusive and environmentally conscious industry.

The event saw the launch of the Center of Excellence-Accessibility’s  (CoE-A) website, an initiative of IDI.

Key takeaways from the event included:

the necessity of collaboration between stakeholders to implement accessible tourism practices,

the role of technology in enhancing accessibility and

the economic benefits of catering to diverse travelers.

Strategy to position Accessible Tourism not a niche market but the mainstream

National Accessible Tourism Day 2024 was a celebration and a call to action, urging all tourism industry sectors to prioritize inclusivity and accessibility in their endeavors.
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