The government is all set to launch the Visit Lumbini Year 2012 on January 14 in a bid to spread Gautam Buddha’s message of peace across the world and develop the Buddha’s birthplace as a peace city and a global Buddhist center.

According to the Ministry of Federal Affairs, Constituent Assembly, Parliamentary Affairs and Culture, the cabinet had decided to mark 2012 as the Visit Lumbini Year about two months ago.

The government will launch the Lumbini year at the concluding ceremony of the Nepal Tourism Year 2011 on January 14, Rishi Kesh Niraula, undersecretary at the ministry, was quoted by Sunday’s The Himalayan Times as saying.

So far in 2011, the country has received more than 800,000 foreign visitors against the Nepal Tourism Year 2011 target of one million visitors, according to government sources. In 2010, some 600,000 foreigners had visited the country.

More than 600,000 people — about 500,000 Nepalis and the rest foreigners — visited Lumbini, one of the country’s 10 sites listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site, in 2010. The Lumbini Development Trust officials expressed hope that Lumbini will receive 140,000 foreign visitors this year.

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