3-9 March 2017 #848

More tourists?

Editorial in Nagarik, March 1

The Nepal Tourism Board is about to launch its ‘Visit Nepal’ promotional ad campaign in the international media with a target of attracting a record number of tourists. But imagine the horror of tourists visiting Nepal for its natural beauty when they are confronted with a chaotic airport and congested, squalid city. How does it make sense to bring more tourists if the capital’s citizens are choking in pollution? What kind of message will it send out to the rest of the world?

Nepal Tourism Board is convinced that an international ad campaign will help Nepal’s tourism recover from the earthquake. It has allocated Rs 60 million for commercials on the BBC, Rs 30 million for Trip Advisor and Rs 7 million for Reuters.

Nepal’s biggest selling point is its hospitable people. Tourists keep coming back because of it, and we have not enhanced our natural assets, instead we have depleted them. But even the earthquake wasn’t enough to decrease Nepali goodwill, and tourists still flocked in. There is no doubt the promotional campaign will bring in more tourists. But what will they do here? We are limited to old tourism products, and it is actually domestic tourism that has come to the rescue. The industry needs to upgrade its products, offer new attractions, streamline procedures so tourists stay longer than the average 13 days and spend more. The revenue should be ploughed into revamping our infrastructure. How about concentrating on cleaning things up at home before launching an international promotion?