Dr. GANESH RAJ JOSHI, secretary at the Ministry of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Culture, is a well known agriculture economist. Dr. Joshi, a Ph. D in agro-economy, also served as a secretary at the Ministry of Environment. As Nepal is celebrating the World Tourism Day on September 27, Dr. Joshi spoke to New Spotlight on various issues regarding the effects of climate change in the tourism sector.
As Nepal is celebrating the World Tourism Day on September 27 by organizing various programs, what do you say about the prospects of Nepal’s tourism?
Nepal is rich in natural, cultural and historical resources, which are considered to be the foundation for a sustainable tourism development. This year’s slogan “Tourism – Linking Culture” is very appropriate for us given our enormous cultural diversity. We can make Nepal an important tourist destination within 10-15 years by consolidating the efforts of all the stakeholders concerned.
As Nepal has been celebrating Nepal Tourism Year 2011 with an aim to bring a million tourists in the country, what promise does the present trend hold for this?
Nepal Tourism Year 2011 is a campaign and the Government of Nepal in its policy and program has announced to give it a continuity. This has created awareness about tourism potential in Nepal and abroad and has also created a solid base for tourism promotion in the future. The tourist arrival in Nepal is encouraging. There has been a growth of about 25% in tourist arrival in the first 8 months of 2011 compared to the last year.
Nepal’s tourism is based on mountains. But the receding of glaciers and snow melting due to rise of temperature are going to affect our Himalayas. How is the government responding to this?
Tourism is one of the major livelihood opportunities of the people in the mountains of Nepal. The studies and researches undertaken in the Himalayas (in Nepal and elsewhere) have shown the rise in temperature in the mountains compared to other ecological regions. This will lead to rapid rate of snow melting, receding of glaciers and related events. Nepal has already prepared the National Adaptation Program of Action (NAPA) for climate change, which has identified priorities and immediate actions for intervention. The efforts should be geared towards its implementation through garnering technical and financial support. Adaptation is the survival strategy for the mountain people.
Don’t you think Nepal’s tourism will be hit by the temperature rise?
Yes, climate change (due to rise in temperature) will impact many important sectors including tourism. This is evident from the findings of the studies and research (although in limited scale) undertaken in Nepal.
What options do you suggest for tourism to cope with climate change? How do you make sure there is balance between climate change and tourism response?
We should orient our policy and programs to make the mountain ecosystem resilient. However, to cope with the impact of climate change, adaptation is the option left before us. We should make every effort to emit low carbon from tourism related activities so that we can regard it as a responsible and sustainable tourism.
Has your ministry ever done any study on the effect of climate change in tourism sector?
The Ministry, and the institutions affiliated with it, have not carried out any studies related to the impact of climate change in the tourism sector. It has been grossly missed in NAPA given its importance to livelihood and contribution to national economy. We have proposed a few studies in the FY 2068/69 which will be administered by Nepal Tourism Board.
What is your impression about the role of Nepal Tourism Board to sell Nepal abroad?
Nepal Tourism Board has representation from both public and private sector. It has been given a mandate of promoting Nepal’s tourism through different activities abroad. It has been able to translate its mandate into action to some extent in this regard. However, additional efforts are needed in a coordinated way (with relevant stakeholders) so as to make Nepal known abroad in real sense.