‘Boost village tourism’

Kathmandu, July 31:

Though Nepal is touted as one of the most happening places in the world for tourism the country’s policymakers and planners are not all that interested in funding rural tourism. Government apathy coupled with haphazard initiatives by villagers on their own may destroy the natural beauty of villages and render them unattractive to tourists, experts feel.

“Villagers should focus on natural resources, not artificial. The natural beauty of villages should be capable of attracting tourists. Village development programmes were launched 35 years ago but it is yet to reach anywhere. There are more than 3,500 VDCs in Nepal,” Prachanda Man Shrestha, Nepal Tourism Board chief executive officer said during a programme on the occasion of Village Tourism Day oragnised by Village Tourism Promotion Nepal.

“The government, INGOs, NGOs and NTB are focusing on rural tourism now,” he said adding that partnership between government agencies and private sector was .”

“The villagers’ lack of knowledge, lack of infrastructure and absence of incentives from the government has hit village tourism,” said Dr Prem Sharma, in-charge of Rural Development at Tribhuwan University .

According to Dr Gyanendra Tuladhar, Nepal offers 1,008 tourism products and activities that include Mt Everest and Lumbini.

Dr Shoorbir Paudyal said, “Over 85 per cent of Nepalis live in villages where agriculture is dominant providing employment to almost two-thirds of the people there. Village tourism is most viable.”