Go To Nepal and Enjoy Its Beauty
British and French ambassadors recently said: “There isn’t any kind of security problem along the travel in Nepal. Tourists have nothing to fear. We recommend the Nepalese and the foreigners to experience the spectacular beauty on their own.” French ambassador, Michel Jolivet, who had been to the Khumbu region from April 15-24, had said that he did not face any kind of security threats during his trip.
The Himalayan kingdom’s Charge d’Affaires in Malaysia, Deepak Dhital said “There is nothing to fear about visiting Nepal. Tourists have never been a target (of violence). That no tourist, whether from Malaysia or any other country, had been targeted by the rebels. Much of the violence took place in remote and rural areas while top tourist destinations such as the Kathmandu Valley, Pokhara and national parks were secure and free from any incident.” he told Bernama.
Nepal is one of the favourite tourist destinations in the South Asian region for Malaysians, with more than 8,000 Malaysians visiting the country of some 21 million people in 2003.
He also said negative media reports about Nepal had contributed and given a wrong impression about the overall situation in the country, known for the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest.
Nepal is one of the most beautiful country due to its unique geographical position and latitudinal variation. Tourism has been a major source of foreign currency earning and also a major contributor to our national economy.
Article published in Kathamandu Post Basanta Raj Misras states that “Tourism in Nepal has been hit not only by the insurgency but also by the wrong perception created by the inflated news and other types of misinformation campaign. The misconception has kept significant number of tourists off Nepal, despite improved security situation in the country.
Nepal has a high-powered crisis management cell set up last year comprising of the high level officials from various ministries. The basic objective of the cell was to disseminate correct and authentic news, fight against negative publicity by establishing strong relationship with foreign media, adopting appropriate marketing strategy, suggesting policy measures and handling seen and unforeseen incidents. The crisis management cell that exists at present is almost defunct. It has been unable to rescue the industry.”
Recently Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) has said they will launch a media campaign in India for tourism promotion as arrival from India decreased by 34 per cent in April. At the same time, Nepalese airlines will also launch special packages for the seasons and the NTB will cooperate with them. NTB has also invited 17 Indian journalists from Mumbai and Delhi. They said the overall security situation of Nepal is conducive enough to run any type of tourism activity in major tourism destinations. The present statistics show that about 300,000 tourists arrive in Nepal annually.
Today, Nepal is suffering from severe problems with tourism a major victim. The extensive negative coverage in the foreign media have hit foreign tourist arrivals to the country. The economic decline during the last year and a half has been painful for all Nepalese. Political violence has weakened Nepal’s largely tourism-based economy, but we Nepali argue to our friendly nations to visit Nepal and enjoy its beauty.
Nepal is a safe and peaceful destination for travellers. The Nepali travel industry hope all the tourists come over to Nepal with greater vigour and warm hospitality for the upcoming high season. They also said tourists can plan their holidays to Nepal without any violence. Nepal also is committed to provide all kind of facilities and hospitality to tourists. In order to better facilitate tourists, the Tourism Crisis Response Action Unit at Nepal Tourism Board responds to the queries and facilitates or takes necessary initiatives.
Nepalese are hospitable, lovable and peaceful. Tourism in Nepal can only flourish if our friendly nations visit to Nepal.
When we take into account the Maoists problem and the political unrest, Nepal has been a difficult destination to sell anyway. Travel agencies and airlines accounted for huge cancellations and changes. No sector of the travel industry remained unaffected. Many hotels throughout the country were forced to close. With the situation today, most people are afraid to travel to Nepal but Nepal is totally safe for the tourists. When travel industry are offered the opportunity to bring tourists into the country, the flow of investment also increases.
Even Nepal knows to encourage international airlines and hotel chains, to set up shop in Nepal by providing them with land, price and tax concessions. There needs to be a more proactive marketing approach to attracting tourists.
The tourism industry directly employs about 250,000 people in Nepal, and one million others have jobs closely tied to the country’s tourism infrastructure. There are 3,310 peaks in Nepal, out of which 304 have been opened for climbing. The government has categorized 126 peaks as trekking peaks, out of which 75 peaks were opened for trekking last year and there are 33 peaks under Nepal Mountaineering Association.
As trekking has helped in the mobilization of local resources and uplift the status of poor people in the rural areas, while 500,000 tourists had come to Nepal in 1999, only half of the number visited the last year as well as revenue in all the major national parks, declined by about 50 per cent.
The gross earnings from tourism increased from RS 636.8 million to RS 8,251 million in 1994, at current prices, with an average annual growth rate of about 17 per cent. The average contribution of tourism earnings to GDP has increased from 2.3 per cent in 1980 to about 4.2 per cent in 1994.
The government’s commitment to maintaining security in the country is seen as an important indicator for the progress or decline of tourism industry. If the country’s major foreign exchange earner is to be saved, then peace and security have to prevail. A lot of work needs to be done, and it is vital that all groups in Nepal do everything they can to end the pain and suffering this conflict has caused. We know that there is a strong link between tourism and peace. The tourism industry brings about peace because it promotes and supports the belief that every traveler is a potential ‘ambassador for peace’. It can also be a vehicle for economic and social development. Recognising the importance of tourism as a significant industry in the promotion of economic benefits and social unity.
Although tourism is important to Nepal’s economy, we need more international financial aid as well as technical assistance. The existing rules and regulations need to be re-looked into and supportive legal framework has to be developed for the success of eco-tourism in Nepal.
Even Nepal’s tourism is affected because tourism in India, the Gulf and Far East are affected. We know that the decline in third country tourists is a result of the global tourism downturn, especially followed by an increasing threat of SARS. The number of tourists from the third world countries recorded a decline in Nepal because of the high cost of marketing in the international market. Several issues have been raised for the development of the tourism sector, but the implementation aspect of the recommendations is too poor in Nepal, so long run planning is required for the revival of the tourism business. However, a lot is still to be done. The situation can definitely be improved if certain steps are taken. Facilities such as clean drinking water, sanitation, good transportation system, construction of good roadways are prerequisites to attract tourists.
There is immense potential for tourism development in Nepal.
Kamala Sarup is an editor of peacejournalism.com