Last week, the government and Kathmandu Metropolitan City rang in the New Year and inaugurated Visit Nepal 2020 with an affected display of fireworks and marching bands at the Dashrath Stadium to support the national tourism campaign. Visit Nepal 2020 is a yearlong campaign, which was announced by the government in May 2018. The campaign was announced with the high expectation of attracting 2 million foreign tourists. The slogan of visit Nepal 2020 is “Lifetime experiences”.
For the past one-and-a-half years, it has been promoted in social media. But the government appears quite indifferent to making basic urban amenities available for tourists, such as public toilets, garbage cans and proper public transport. It is a big problem in all the urban areas of Nepal, even at the major tourist destinations, such as the World Heritage Sites.
At Patan Durbar Square and the Swayambhunath Temple, there are tourist lavatories but not a single toilet for tourists in Pashupati. Bathrooms at the most visited places like Pashupati, Ratnapark and Basantpur are often messy with water shortage. The lack of toilets is a problem faced by Kathmandu’s residents as well.
We see dust everywhere, in the streets, on the road and in public parks. It’s hard to find a dustbin to dispose of garbage.
For lack of dustbins, people just throw garbage everywhere. I was watching live the inauguration of the Visit Nepal 2020 on YouTube, when one foreigner sitting near to me seemed bothered by the chaotic traffic. He said, “I am from Russia. I have been facing the same problem for the past one week. Is the traffic jam always like this?” I felt so bad that I didn’t say anything.
The Kathmandu Valley boasts of seven World Heritage Sites, but the traffic congestion and narrow footpaths make getting around extremely difficult.
So how will tourists enjoy their stay in the city amidst all these problems? Will they get a lifetime experience according to the slogan of the Visit Nepal 2020? Will they really inspire other people to visit Nepal?
No doubt, Nepal is naturally a very beautiful country where the world’s highest mountain, Everest, is located, and it is also famous for being the birthplace of Gautam Buddha.
But the government needs to provide basic infrastructure and amenities for tourists if it really wants to make Visit Nepal 2020 a grand success.
A version of this article appears in print on January 07, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.