Looking Forward to Visit Nepal Year 2020
Government of Nepal had announced “Visit Nepal Year -2020” about three year after the Earthquake in April 2015 to push forward the sluggish growth of incoming visitors. This announcement encouraged private investors to invest in luxury hotels. There are now 5 new five star hotels that have sprung up in the country. There are huge investments in smaller hotels, restaurants and lodges all over the country. The tourism business environment has been upbeat since then. Lodges and infrastructure on the main trekking trails that were damaged and destroyed in the earth quack are rebuilt and repaired. Many temples and historical monuments in Kathmandu valley are in the process of completion and some of are under repair. Statistics of 2018 shows there is 25% increase in visitor’s arrival. The figures 1.17 million arrival is encouraging enough for tourism entrepreneurs to looking forward to 2020. Now it is just around the corner.
The sluggish growth in the past years was very much attached to performance of Nepal Airline. The growth of tourism was always associated with the good performance of the national flag carrier. For more than a decade the national career faced problems of aircraft shortage, bad management and corruption. Dismal performance and shrinking of its international flights network almost bought the airline out of business. Nepal government finally salvaged it by helping the airline to get some small aircrafts from China and acquiring two wide body long hauls Airbus for its international flights. This measure has raised hope in the healthy growth of tourist arrival despite the ban imposed by European Union to the airlines registered in Nepal on the security ground.
As usual in Nepalese management of such event, the government at the last minute finally formed an apex body to manage the campaign last year. It did not start work until the spring of 2019. Couple with late start many entrepreneurs think the much hyped international airport in Lumbini may not be ready to do business as and when visit 2020 kicks off in January even though the airport may be ready to operate. In the public relation front, the government have not yet salvaged itself from the rescue helicopter scam that had tarnished its’ imaged due to charge of cover up of the scam itself. In the spring 2019 it also had to face bad management charge because of record death of climbers in climbing Mt. Everest.
The tourism industry that contributed 7 percent of GDP and one of the main foreign exchange earners is the only hope beside hydro power to help the country in its problem with balance of payment and rapid increase in employment. The newly appointed minister of tourism filled the vacancy after five month that itself indicates inefficiency of the present government.
Infrastructure and capacity to cater 2 million tourists would not be a problem yet the tourism products that we have now remained almost same since decades except some addition in quick adventures. Trek destinations are almost same. Apart from popular lodge trek destinations like Everest, Langtang and Annapurna the off the beaten trails that were pioneered in 1970’s and 80’s continues to draw increasingly less number of hard core trekkers. Most tours are concentrated in Kathmandu and Pokhara valley. Chitwan Jungle continues to offer same wild life safari and activities without much variation though several luxury hotels and resorts have come up. If we are to believe only on the basis of this information you may think the visit Nepal 2020 is old wine in a new bottle.
Yes it is old wine, but now there are different bottles. And the old wine will be of different varieties. The provincial governments want to make ‘Visit Nepal 2020’ a special occasion to attract visitors to their own states. They want to pitch their own tourism products that are not being displayed as regular tourism activities. I am sure they will soon come up with attractive offer that are different and attractive to get the attention of international visitors. The other advantage you may have is Nepal tourism exposure in the international market. Huge financial budget has been set aside for promotion in major tourists’ source market. Among them Europe is in focus in the campaign office. We hope to have some dazzling offer by tourism entrepreneurs, provincial governments, and Ministry of Tourism of the central government in the days to come. We will keep you updated on this aspect.
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