A small spark has the power to unravel the mighty potential. Homing in to the small surge in tourist arrivals in the first month of the current

year, undue expectation has been raised as has

always been. To be more precise, this small indicator is being taken for the generalization for the projected tourist arrivals during Nepal Tourism Year 2011.

With the majority of the basic tasks apparently remaining unfinished or the first bricks yet to be laid, the fate of the massive influx of visitors to the country can only be a far-fetched dream. This is not to do away with the encouragement that the country in general and the tourism sector in particular would receive if everything goesas planned. But, wishing alone and the declaration of the next year on a hyped scale alone cannot meet the demands. It is true that Nepal still remains an exotic or rather a sought after destination on all fronts, the only thing that is not favouring the country at the moment is the political fluidity that disrupts normal life through bandhs and unrewarding violence which are enough for the potential Nepal visitor to tick it off their itinerary. This has been a damper as far as the desire to be host, not only to a million, but millions of tourists is concerned.

There may be some good news for the tourism sector as the figures released by Immigration Office, Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) reveal that visitor arrivals in the month of January 2010, compared to the same month last year, have increased by 18.8 per cent. This may come as a momentary solace for the tourism sector and the foreign exchange earnings that will accrue. To enhance the arrivals further will be the necessity. In this context, Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) is on

record saying that the total tourist arrival in the country via air in 2009 recorded a marginal growth of 1.1 percent in comparison to the arrival figure of 2008. The pictures reveal that despite the overall depressing conditions, the tourists do want to visit Nepal for all its charms and invaluable experiences. To the versed, explanations are not necessary, but the tourist generating markets need to have the basic information and what Nepal can offer by the way of amenities, comfortable travel and stay, and security remains the foremost concern. Besides, many connecting flights to major tourist generating markets are missing, while the ones that there are cannot meet any sudden spurt in visitors bound for Nepal. Being a sensitive sector, every care has to be taken to rule out any negative feedback for the visitors who normally want their travel tailored out as per their wallet and time available.

To take the tourist arrivals for granted is the greatest mistake that the government as well as

the tourism related agencies have been making. Without sophistication on our part, together with the relevant development of tourism products, and the getting the security front beefed up, the mere declaration of a tourism year cannot have a positive lining. In this, the private sector knows what is best, as it has propped up the vital tourism industry, so they must be relied on and their input should be sought to serve as the guideline for 2011.