Mount Everest, the highest mountain peak in the world, is located in Nepal. Mountaineering and other types of adventure tourism and ecotourism are important attractions for visitors. The world heritage site Lumbini, the birthplace of Gautama Buddha, is located in the south of the West region of Nepal (which despite the name is located in the center of the country) and there are other important religious pilgrimage sites throughout the country. The tourist industry is seen as a way to alleviate poverty and achieve greater social equity in the country. Tourism brings $471m a year to Nepal.
Namche Bazaar, gateway to Mount Everest, under snow According to statistics of 2012, there was a slow growth rate of 9.8%. According to statistics from Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), a total of 598,204 foreign tourists entered the country via the aerial route in 2012. The government of Nepal declared 2011 to be Nepal Tourism Year and hoped to attract one million foreign tourists to the country during that year. The government of Nepal has also declared Lumbini Tourism Year 2012 to promote Lumbini.
Tourism in Nepal was badly affected, at least temporarily, by the series of earthquakes in 2015.