TOPICS : Attracting tourists during recession

Expecting the unexpected is the worst part in tourism. Variables in vogue invariably attempt to impinge either directly or indirectly. Since impossible is nothing in this world the industry has to stay on tenterhooks. Moreover, a country like ours has to excercise extra caution for many kinds of eventualities.

Tourism, as everyone’s trade, from urban to rural, was gradually ascending on the performance rating (37 per cent) till the end of 2007. The growth can be attributed largely to political stability in the aftermath of Janaandolan II. But, the latest figures show that the global financial meltdown and other travel deterrents have started hitting this industry hard with only 4% growth in 2008. The opulent western countries, through their media, are disseminating notices to their citizens for applying moratorium on their travel expenses. Tourism and thrift are opposites. Hence, the consequence of the ongoing recession creates a cascading effect on the international tourism.

Celebrating the year 2011 as Nepal Tourism Year (NTY 11) was mooted with this notion of consolidating the efforts of all sections for fetching more tourists to Nepal as in the Visit Nepal Year 1998. Most of the professionals still do not acknowledge that the VNY 98 was successful enough to a level to draw inspiration to carry forward yet another one for 2011. However, tourism as an industry always demands one or the other type of gimmicks. Hence, the newly launched campaign for 2011 basically aspires to strive for increasing the number of tourists to Nepal from defined tourism markets, stimulating domestic tourism activities,

enhancing the community’s capacity in service delivery, capitalizing on Nepal’s specific tourism brand for transforming its image with a definite identity and maintaining solidarity in the trade by enveloping the efforts of all the public and private stakeholders.

This sort of campaign helps recharge the spirit and redraw the attention of local and international people in order to show that political instability and tourism stability, although two different sides of the same coin, however implies different meaning in a unique country like ours where the old tradition of tourism friendliness is pervasive. Moreover, this would also set an example to prove that stability arises after instability. The great chasm witnessed amongst the people, society, ethnicity and religion and region, in course of charting a federal system, would be bridged through harmony maintained in course of treating the guests as in our tradition. This means tourism can gain the status of people’s industry in terms of its pervasive presence and direct and indirect nexus with all strata of people.

For tourism purposes, stability is the utopian philosophy in global or regional or even national perspective, hence we should perennially strive for creating vibes in order to energize the spirit of entrepreneurs by creating innovative programmes and activities.

Baral is Director at Nepal Tourism Board