EDITORIAL: Boosting tourism

Nepal has plenty to offer in order to be a beehive for quality tourists, such as mountaineering, trekking, sight seeing and rafting

Tourism is considered to be one of the major earners but of late it has been seen to be flagging.

Although this sector has been lucrative seeing more visitors the devastating earthquake of April 25, and several strong quakes in its aftermath, it took a beating as a result of which the tourism industry has been facing a tough time as the number of tourists has declined.

Happily projections now are that more tourists will be visiting the country and industry is slowly reviving.

In order to boost the number of tourists it is essential to carry out aggressive promotion and marketing. The hospitality business is one of the fastest growing sources of income for Nepal.

The tourism entrepreneurs expect better income in the near future. The involvement of the private sector also in this industry is crucial for tourism to thrive.

We need to build the necessary infrastructure which could accommodate more tourists who are expected to visit.

More global hotel chains including Sheraton Marriot, among others, are expected to make a debut in Nepal. In the next five years, it is estimated that 4,000 more rooms will be available in standard hotels and resorts fit for tourists.

According to records, the average stay of a tourist is 12.8 days and a tourist spends around $70 per day on the average. The government has plans to increase the number of tourists coming to Nepal to two million per annum by 2020.

This seems plausible if we are able to attract more tourists from India and China. China is a new tourism market for Nepal. Fees for visas have been recently waived for tourists from China too.

Currently, only tourists from countries of SAARC enjoy this facility, while visitors from other countries have to pay $ 25 for a 15-day visa and $40 to $ 100 for 30-day and 90-day visas respectively.

This provision should see a rise of tourists from China who would love to visit Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, among other things.

The tourism sector could do very well with the building of more infrastructure necessary to cater to the growing number of tourists at a rapid pace. Chinese tourists account for 16 per cent of the arrivals.

Meanwhile, as far as possible new destinations for tourists should be opened throughout the country so that development is balanced and the benefits accrue to the grassroots level and the existing destinations should be developed more.

The NAC should be operating flights from more destinations as the international flight fares are very expensive.

Connectivity between Nepal and China would be enhanced after the completion of the new international airports at Pokhara and Bhairahawa. Here it would be wise on our part to focus on quality tourism if we intend to be a popular destination for tourists seeking quality.

In the long run this would ensure that quality tourism will foster prosperity to the nation. Quality should not be forfeited for quantity.

This trend needs to be addressed, and we want to be known as a nation providing quality tourism so as not to disappoint the visitors.

Nepal has plenty to offer in order to be a beehive for quality tourists, such as mountaineering, trekking and sight-seeing and rafting.

New rules

Traffic rules violators have to pay more fines from Saturday as the government has made an amendment to the Motor Vehicle and Transport Management Act 1993.

According to the new provision, the fines range from Rs. 500 to Rs. 1,500.

Earlier, the rates of fine for violating the traffic rules used to stand between Rs. 25 to Rs. 200. But the maximum fine for drink driving was Rs. 1,000.

Traffic police believe this change in fine structure would act as a deterrent. The law enforcing body believes that motorists quite often broke the traffic rules as the fines to be imposed on them for breaking the rules were minimal.

It may be a right decision on the part of the government as it will make the motorists more cautious and careful while driving two and four wheelers.

But the government has not thought adequately about the poor condition of roads and traffic signals in major thoroughfares even in the busy streets in the capital.

Traffic lights are dysfunctional at major intersections and road dividing lines and zebra crossings are invisible.

There are not clear signs at many places either as to whether motorists can park there or not.

How can we expect smooth traffic when these basics are not in the right order?