Nepal Tourism Year No Number Game

A million tourists, will Nepal surpass the tourism year goal or will it fall short? This has been the buzz around the nation since the outset of Nepal Tourism Year (NTY) 2011<br>DEBESH ADHIKARY

Oct. 24, 2011, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol. : 05 No.- 08 Oct. 21- 2011 (Kartik 04,2068)<br>

To begin with, the goal to land a million tourists looked a bit far-fetched in the context of the poor performance history of Nepalese tourism.

However, NTY has entered the 10th month of the year, and as the countdown to the end has begun, the goal is looming closer and closer but due to lack of time, the goal might just slip away.

In this year, the total number of tourist arrival by airways has increased by 23 percent compared to the previous year. Some 368,844 visited Nepal in the first 9 months this year via air. Industrialists have said Nepal is guaranteed to welcome around 6 lakh tourists through air ways and around 2 lakhs tourists through land ways. Yet, the figures are well short than the expectation of Nepal Tourism Board which was expecting to welcome around 7 lakhs tourists via airways and 3 lakhs tourists over land.

Now everybody’s eyes are fixated on the numbers.

“It is very difficult to reach the 1 million tourist goal now, but we can hopefully reach close to it,” said Kashi Raj Bhandari, director of the Research, Planning and Monitoring Department at Nepal Tourism Board.

The main reason for the lack of expected number of tourists has been the lack of promotion about the NTY 2011 in the international market by the tourism board. The budget allocated for the promotional activities were not spent fully and properly. Blame could be hurled on the government as well because there are clear evidences that the government has not played the role that was expected from it in the tourism year.

Lack of international aircraft also added to the plight. Flights that fly into the nation were increased but they were not enough to bring 7 lakhs tourists into the country. Nepal’s sole international airline, Nepal airlines, also has a single aircraft which barely takes off from the runway. Add to that, Nepal doesn’t even have hospitality capacity for 1 million tourists in a year despite increase in accommodation capacity by hoteliers.

So, the goal set by tourism board was insurmountable in the first place. Despite such a target, tourism industrialists worked hard. Their efforts have been positive and encouraging.

Something to look forward

On the other side, NTY has shown the rhetoric about Nepal having a vast potential in tourism due to its natural beauty is actually true. This year has given us new hopes, raised new expectations in the minds of people regarding tourism.

But, the main concern surrounding tourism is that revenue generation from tourism has decreased despite increase in number of tourists. According to experts, revenue generation has been affected due to high number of regional tourists and lack of high profile European and American tourists. But, rather than being discouraged by the decrease in revenue generation, what should be noted is that if the Indian and Chinese tourists are served well and if they return home safe and satisfied, then high profile tourists will eventually follow. After all, who wouldn’t want to experience the mountains and vast natural beauty of Nepal?

If Nepal reaches its 1 million tourists goal- which is highly unlikely, it would be a job well done. Tourism industrialists should not get carried away but continue the same hard work and determination in the future years and set new positive tourist records every year.

On the flip side, even if the target is missed by a whisker, it should be appreciated. The failure to reach the goal won’t mean anything as at the end of the day 1 million is nothing but just a number. The thing that should be noted is the unceasing efforts and hard works put in by the tourism industrialists to make Nepal a better tourist destination. Because of their efforts Nepal tourism year will prove to be a success irrespective of its outcome.

Nepal still needs lots of hard work to make it an attractive tourist destination. But, in the midst of all concerns and worries, nobody can deny the fact that due to the effects of Nepal Tourism Year, Nepal has become a far better tourist destination now, than it was in the past.

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