A small country lying in South-East Asia, Nepal has always been considered as one of the most naturally and culturally beautiful countries for many years. The flora and fauna, mountains, valleys, rivers, lakes, forests, temples, and many other aspects define Nepal perfectly. Though it may not be the richest country in terms of economy, no one can doubt the wealth of nature that Nepal has. Nepal has always been a major hub for tourists all around the world. Whether it is for mountain climbing, rafting, bungee jumping or just to dwell on the lush forests of Nepal, tourists have always shown great love for Nepal throughout the years. Even after the devastating earthquake of 2015 A.D, tourists have still reserved a place in their heart for Nepal and continues to support Nepal by visiting the country.
Since tourism is one of the major business for the country to get their revenues up, Nepal government has announced the project of “Visit Nepal 2020”. The year 2018 proved to be a fruitful year in terms of tourism for Nepal where it saw significant growth in the number of tourists visiting Nepal. So, according to Nepal Tourism Board(NTB), the project is expected to further increase the volume of tourists arriving in Nepal.
The project, Visit Nepal 2020 was announced by NTB in 2015 with the vision of increasing the influx of tourists in Nepal. Deepak Raj Joshi, CEO of NTB said, “We crossed the one million tourist arrival mark last year for the first time in the country’s history and the number is set to reach two million next year.” To further diversify the message, the slogan of the project has been translated to at least 10 different languages that include, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, German and Arabic. To increase the satisfaction of visiting tourists, NTB is also planning to train at least 10,000 individuals to enhance the service for the tourists.
Being the two neighboring countries of Nepal, India and China have also accounted to the most numbers of tourists visiting Nepal. Since Nepal has an open border with India and also because of the similarity in religion and culture amongst the two countries, it is no surprise that many Indian citizens visit Nepal each year. Whereas, Nepal introduced waiving of visa fee for Chinese nationals starting from 2016 which has resulted in the growth of Chinese citizen visiting Nepal.
Also outlining the timing of the completion of Gautam Buddha International Airport in Bhairahawa which is expected to finish within 2019 and the upgrade of the Tribhuvan International Airport of Kathmandu to finish soon too, Visit Nepal 2020 has been set on a perfect time as it will only increase the number of tourists in the country. It has also been stated that the country is also working on upgrading the existing domestic airports to make things even more convenient for the guests.
Reconstructions of major heritage sites destroyed during the earthquakes are also on full swing and are expected to finish around the initiation of the much-anticipated date.
Promotions for the event have also been given full effort by the government as the budget separated for promotion alone is said to be around Rs. 100 million. According to NTB, they are participating in the next tourism expo in Japan to further expose the initiative to a larger crowd. Many big as well as small hotels, lodges, resorts, etc. are also being introduced throughout the country to make things easier for the tourists. Amarman Shakya, President of Hotel Association of Nepal (HAN) says, “We have accommodation facilities for 25 lakh tourists currently and some 4,000 to 5,000 rooms will be added by the year 2020 so accommodation won’t be a problem.”
However, along with the operation, there are some major existing problems that NTB has to tackle before the commencement of the event. One is the lack of roadways in the rural part of Nepal. The lack of appropriate infrastructure has always hindered the growth of tourism in Nepal and to rectify this problem, the Nepal government certainly has to give it a lot of thought. Also, the hotels and lodges have all been centralized to mainly urban parts of the country whereas beautiful rural areas like Kanyam, Ilam, Pathibhara, Khaptad, et cetera has little to none hotels for the guests to stay in. So, it also has to be tackled before it is too late.
Marketing and initiatives only are not enough to make this event a success. Equal efforts should be given to increase the infrastructure available in the country. Foreign investments in chain hotels have been a blessing for Nepal and opening of such hotels will be a welcome surprise for the project.
Nepal has always been able to attract tourists but it is now up to the government to make an effort to increase the influx by providing necessary services. Being a proud citizen of Nepal myself, I hope this project – Visit Nepal 2020 will be a grand success and I pray many tourists visit our beautiful country. Long may its beauty remain!