Club Himalaya has been holding Chang Chait (a Kite flying competition) in Nagarkot since 2003.With an aim to develop Nagarkot as a destination for kite lovers, Changachait held in October 2011 after gap in four years. Started by Yogendra Shakya, coordinator of Nepal Tourism Year 2011 and Nepal's renowned tourism entrepreneurs, Changa Chait, which is organized and held at Club Himalaya, Nagarkot, help to promote domestic tourism in Nagarkot area.
As various hotels offers packages to domestic tourists, the number of Nepalese tourists in Chitwan, Pokhara and Lumbini also increase. At a time when the government is planning to announce two days holiday looking at the power crisis in coming winter, it will have significant impacts on domestic tourism.
With the theme ‘Tourism and Sustainable Energy: Powering Sustainable Develop, Nepal Tourism Board celebrated World Tourism Day on September 27, 2012. However, it is yet to realize the contribution of domestic tourists in sustaining tourism in Nepal.
Still, according to NTB the celebrations hold high significance in the current Nepalese tourism context. But, it’s the time to not only be limited to rituals and be engaged in promotions for the international tourists but also focus simultaneously on internal tourism development as the internal tourism in Nepal has been on a rising trend.
The recent proposal of government with the intent of reducing energy consumption has called for two day weekend holidays in government offices as well as in the private sector, educational institutions and other institutions. The proposed move of the government has its effects beyond the energy sector as it offers high chances for the tourism prospects especially for internal tourism.
“The two holiday plan, if approved, will increase internal tourism in Nepal to some extent. Many people of urban places and especially that of Kathmandu travel if they get two-three day long holiday even now. The hectic life style and the desire to get into a better environment trigger the move to go outside their living arena,” said a tourism analyst.
Be it adventure tourism or sight-seeing or just plain travelling to major tourist destinations or religious tourism, internal tourists already constitute a huge market. However, the focus of the tourism industrialists has not been that much concentrated on internal tourists, but this segment is offering hopes and has the potential to inject more life in tourism sector even in this gloomy political times.
The figures also speak as some 40 percent of total people going for rafting are internal tourists, according to various records. Not only in rafting, the number of domestic tourists going for other adventure tourism like trekking, bungee jumping, cycling, among others is also found very high.
According to last resort, Thamel branch, around 20 percent of the total people going for bungee jumping are internal tourists. Some 400 people normally go for bungee jumping in a month of which 80 are Nepalese. During his tenure as a president of Hotel Association Nepal, Prassiddha Bahadur Pandey also made a lot of efforts to promote the domestic tourism to sustain the industry.
According to various other unofficial records, internal tourists mainly prefer traveling for either adventure tourism or go to major tourists destinations like Pokhara, Chitwan, Lumbini and others.
“Adventure tourism is one of the main reasons for the travel of Nepalese. Numbers of internal tourists going for trekking and other adventures is very high,” said president of Trekking Agencies' Association of Nepal (TAAN), Mahendra S. Thapa.
Although the traveling culture in people of Nepal is only slowly developing. However, internal tourists already constitute a huge segmentof the Nepalese tourism sector and this segment has further room to expand.Internal tourism has been continuously rising ever since the end of armed Maoist revolution.
“Internal tourism is basically good and increasing, and it has been continuously on a rise right after the end of armed Maoist insurgency. The two day-holiday proposed plan will definitely add some power into the internal tourism sector of Nepal, if it goes through,” said Thapa.
Even current political instability has not stopped people from travelling and the toll of politics is seen less for internal tourism compared to the external.“The political instability has less effect for internal tourists when compared with that for the external tourists. This sector should be given very high priority to establish tourism as a backbone of the nation’s economy and even in this gloomy political scenario internal tourism can thrive,” said a high level Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) official.
"Nepalese who are going abroad or who have returned from foreign countries are the ones that travel in general. The number of corporate people going for a travel is rising rapidly. But, the local people still don't travel that. The numbers of internal tourists have gone up by many folds in the past two-three years," said a travel agent.
But various strikes like stopping tourist buses carrying domestic touristsand hotels giving less priority to domestic tourists might bring major hindrances for the development of internal tourism. But, if provided all the necessary facilities internal tourism has room to grow, say tourism industrialists.
“But to get a boost for internal tourism, there should be two-day holiday beyond government offices as people like bankers and people who are working for private companies are the ones that travel mostly. And if the proposed plan goes through, I think travel agencies will definitely bring some packages targeting the weekend internal tourists,” said a travel and tours entrepreneur.
Growth at a slower rate
Not only internal tourism, there has been continuous rise in the number of international tourist arrivals. However, the growth when compared with last year is slowly decreasing as the tourist arrival increased by mere 2.5 percent this August as compared with the same month last year.
Mid-September afterwards is considered as a high tourist season (period where tourist arrival is very high), so all the tourism industrialists are hoping to embrace on a nice journey this tourist season as well. But the brewing political unrest is their main concern.
“It is obvious that political instability is the biggest hindrance for the smooth operation of tourism industry in Nepal,” said Aditya Baral, Director of NTB.
In January-August of 2012, international tourist arrival to Nepal has risen by 16.3 percent to 377,043, according to Nepal Tourism Board. But, it is yet to have any record on internal tourism. In the context of growing political instability, luring the domestic tourism can help to sustain tourism industry.