Amid controversy over Bollywood awards, government plans another international event for this year

Even as a controversy over the decision to host the International Indian Film Academy awards in Kathmandu continues to roil the country, the government has announced another high-profile international event to take place later this year.

Gokul Baskota, minister for communications and information technology, announced on Monday that plans were underway to hold an international media summit in order to promote tourism to Nepal.

Except it won’t be any ordinary media summit—it would cost hundreds of millions.

“We’re celebrating Visit Nepal 2020, and to promote it, we are spending 200 to 300 million rupees to organise an international media summit,” Baskota said during an event in the Capital.

Though plans have yet to be formally announced, it is expected that the summit will be held after IIFA awards, possibly sometime in October or November. 

“We are planning to invite CNN and BBC, along with media from India, China, Singapore, Japan, and South Korea, among others, from both print and digital,” Baskota told the Post in a phone interview. 

As per preliminary plans, the media platforms will assemble in Kathmandu, where a “large opening session” will showcase Nepal’s tourism prospects and its major tourist destinations.

“Then the foreign journalists will be dispatched to various tourist destinations for reporting,” said Baskota. “We will also include major Nepali media, who will also take a tour to major tourist attractions and destinations.” 

The summit will take place over two weeks, said Baskota. International media will be encouraged to write about Nepal’s tourism prospects, with photographs and live streams from various locations.

“Ultimately, it will contribute to the promotion of Nepali tourism,” he said.

Baskota’s ambitious plans come at a time when the government is already facing criticism from across the socio-political spectrum for its plans to host the IIFA 2019, the annual Bollywood film awards, by paying the organisers over Rs450 million. 

While the government and the Nepal Tourism Board, which will be providing the bulk of the cash, have defended the decision saying Nepal will receive intangible benefits in the form of valuable tourism promotions, many political leaders have questioned the rationale behind this assertion and its exorbitant price tag. 

On Monday, after revealing the government’s plan for the media summit, Baskota was quick to anticipate criticism, saying the plan will certainly face opposition.

“There will be those who say that since the Nepali media has not received 100 million,” he continued, “why is the government spending so much money on an international media summit?”

Baskota didn’t explain the reason.

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