Nepal could be presented to the world as a re-branded tourist-destination if investors and policy makers could work together with transporters, communicators and hospitality-work-force on the scheme.
Two lessons of sustainability and resilience – from the 2015-earthquake and the COVID 19 pandemic- accompanied by preparedness to cope with crisis should of course guide the process of presenting the country in an innovative way. Ignoring them would prove to be very costly in future.
The views mentioned above constitute the gist of series of informal talks held with the champions of five different sectors in September 2023 just ahead of World Tourism Day. All appear motivated to promote tourism in future with fresh approaches. Most feel assured and hopeful for better days because of the data that demonstrated: 476,481 foreign tourists visited Nepal in January – June-period, 2023.
Experts also take the figure to be indicator of brighter days for Nepal tourism which was adversely affected first by the quake and then by pandemic, which, among other things, compelled to call off Visit Nepal 2020. The two -quake and virus- shocked Nepali tourism victimizing multi-sectors of the economy
Stability in policy regarding hotels, airlines, touristic spots, trekking and other travel-related sectors is what we expect, said an investor. A continuous, consistent and open dialogue is what we want from investors, observed a policy maker. A guarantee for safe and comfortable mobility to destinations was the demand of a transporter while quick and easy access to tourism information was what one communicator expected. One hospitality worker expected due respect and honour for labour for all those engaged in it.
In a sense all were emphasizing good governance for sustainable growth of tourism, a well thought coordination among the five sectors and a base for robust, decent tourist-engagement programmes. They sought empowering tourism structure in a sound manner for further growth and extension. One entrepreneur opined the tourism sector should be so enabled as it could take the responsibility of manning the economy in a reliable way.
The process of re-branding Nepal Tourism should be linked with the destinations and processes which served tourists so well for years together. It should seek innovative approach to build on them and opening fresh spots and ways to cope with the demand of modern day tourists.
In other words tourists visiting Kathmandu, Pokhara and Chitawan should be positively lured to engage, for a day or two, in activities of their choice in spots spread over various provinces and municipalities – urban and rural. They should also be able to spend some extra money in appropriate souvenirs or goods or services in those places through special marketing efforts of small or cottage industries. The rich cultural heritage – tangible and intangible – of Nepal particularly those of food, dress, music, musical instruments, dance, arts, crafts etc. could serve as potential areas for appropriate tourism product designing.