KATHMANDU: Nepal hosted the first Asian Resilience Summit on Friday, with leading figures in global travel and tourism converging on Kathmandu.

Speaking ahead of the summit, UN World Tourism Organisation regional director for Asia-Pacific Xu Jing said: “We want to see resilience lead a step further – not only to how destinations recover but to how to go beyond recovery.”

Nepal is still recovering from the devastating earthquake of April 2015. But Xu Jing insisted: “Nepal can not only recover but can be established firmly on the world map of tourism.”

He highlighted the opportunities for Nepal, saying: “Nepal is very lucky. Your neighbour China is the world’s largest tourism source market and you also have India as a neighbour.

Former UNWTO secretary general Taleb Rifai, who chairs the Global Travel and Tourism Resilience Council (GTTRC) which organised the summit, said: “What is most important for resilience is to build a strong base for the industry.

“Tourism is a vulnerable industry, but it recovers well from any crisis if it has a strong base. If you don’t have a strong base in normal times, how do you recover what you don’t have?”

Pacific-Asia Travel Association chief executive Mario Hardy added: “I have no doubt numbers to Nepal will increase – more and more people will come. What is important is to think about capacity management.”

Daniela Wagner, co-founder of the GTTRC, said: “Nepal has faced great challenges but has enormous opportunities to grow and to develop great tourism.

“We can’t stop things going wrong or provide solutions to every problem, but we can create a global platform for sharing solutions.

“We can establish a dialogue so public and private sectors can talk to one another and break down the barriers between sectors and destinations. It is a dialogue we all need to be part of.”

Nepal Tourism Board chief executive Deepak Raj Joshi stressed the benefits of the summit, saying: “It highlights Nepal as a destination, allows the exchange of ideas and will enable our tourism sector to connect with people.”