Rs 5m campaign fetches 15 visitors

Kathmandu, July 14:

‘Send Home a Friend’ — a yearlong tourism promotional campaign flopped miserably, bringing just 15 foreign visitors in the fiscal year 2064-65.

The campaign was declared in the last year’s budget as a joint programme of the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) and Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) to take advantage of the growing Nepali diaspora and Non-Resident Nepali (NRN) movement for tourism promotion.

Though, NTB officials did not provide details of the expenses, a budget of Rs 5 million was allocated for the campaign.

The campaign was launched in November in the United Kingdom with the involvement of Nepali Embassy, London and NRN Association, UK chapter. NTB then promoted the campaign at different international fairs and sales missions. It started keeping a record of registered visitors from January this year.

“We succeeded in generating massive interest about the campaign. Our website also received more than 35,000 hits during the period. But the number of visitors that registered for the campaign was negligible. It might be that our visitors didn’t register through our website. Now, we have asked our partners in foreign countries to register their recommended visitors,” Diwakar Rana, a focal person for the campaign at NTB, said. Rana hoped the number would increase in the new tourism season that begins in September.

NTB had offered special privileges to visitors coming to Nepal through the campaign. The visitors were entitled to attractive discounts in domestic airfare, restaurants and souvenir shops. Likewise, MoCTCA and NTB had plans to felicitate individuals or institutions sending the maximum number of visitors to Nepal.

Commenting on the discouraging outcome of the campaign, Pawan Tuladhar, president of PATA Nepal Chapter, said it was too early to expect results from the campaign. “Marketing doesn’t yield results overnight. This is a period of investment and we can expect results only after three or four years,” Tuladhar added. Terming the campaign an excellent idea for tourism promotion, he emphasised on its continuity for some more years.

However, Basant Raj Mishra, president of Nepal Association of Tour Operators (NATO), felt there was something wrong with the campaign.

“A similar campaign had become immensely popular in the Philippines some years back. I think NTB failed to promote the campaign in an effective way. Maybe they couldn’t apprise the NRN Associations and Nepali diaspora about the modalities of the campaign. Still, the turnout of just 15 visitors can’t be excused on any ground,” Mishra said, adding that he saw no point in continuing the campaign if it wasn’t yielding results.