Bonanza in mind

It is the nature of every government to come up with announcement for propping up the tourism industry. The implementation aspect has been seen to some extent in the past albeit the dream of a million visitors landing in the country is yet to materialise.

In retrospect, the Visit Nepal Year 1998 was an eye opener in the sense that it proved the marketability of Nepal as a tourist destination. The almost 500,000 arrivals that year made the planners’ mind fly high that an annual flow of a million tourists to the country was not difficult to achieve. However, the planning was awry and expectations relied on the results materialising on their own without any input. The insurgency also played its part in discouraging potential tourists from including Nepal in their itinerary. Unstable political climate was a deterrent for potential tourists making a beeline into this Himalayan country with established natural and cultural heritages. The lack of new tourism products too made it difficult to cater to the needs of a varied breed of globe trotters.

Tourism has always been highly regarded because of its capacity to deliver in a country where deprivations and lack of opportunities can be met at every corner. It is thought even today as a panacea to lift the people out of their dismal existence. A survey of some of the areas of Nepal like Solukhumbu shows that tourism has definitely contributed in raising the

living standard of the local people. The negative trends that have hampered tourism development include the unnecessary violence by one or the other group, the bandhs, load shedding, pollution, lack of security and so on. If these can be tackled then tourism development can do much to alleviate poverty, increase employment opportunities and generate the much needed foreign currency.

Concrete policies and programmes are needed in a country where it has been the private sector that has shouldered almost every aspect of travel industry

development and promotion.

Now, the talk of Visit Nepal 2011 is in the air. The Tourism Ministry claims that it would be a mega event wherein a million plus tourists are to be attracted. If the expectations are met, it will be something to celebrate about. But, all logistics has to be in place to meet the demands of so big a number of visitors. A sudden inflow of tourists will put enormous

strains on the existing infrastructure starting from the number of inbound flights, accommodation, transportation and the like. Even the border formalities have to be more tourist-friendly and the

usual grievances of harassment have to be eliminated. Moreover, newer tourism products have to be identified in keeping pace with the changing tastes of the would-be tourists. These are but a few areas where the government has to do extra homework and also liberally open up its purse to see the

annual turnover of a million tourists in the country in another two years. Saying is easy but the preparation for it is full of challenges. The Tourism Ministry

has to come up with a blueprint of how they are

going to proceed.