Nepali Times
Under My Hat
Nepal sweeps Conde Nasty Traveller Awards 2005


Just as we were all about to give up on Nepal comes the happy news that three of the country's tourist spots were voted among the World's Top 75 Destinations by Wanderlust Magazine this week. (Up to here everything in this column is true. -Ministry of Information and Communicable Diseases). The three spots are: the World's Highest Mountain Chomolungma, the World's Deepest Gorge Kali Gandaki and I think the last one is the World's Largest Cabinet Singha Darbar but let me make a mental note to double check that.

These recognitions put Nepal right up there among the world's top destinations even though as a nation we may not know precisely what our destination is at any given moment. For a country that can't seem to figure out where it is we are going, we sure as hell are getting there fast. And that's what counts.

The Wanderlust honours come soon after Nepal swept the Conde Nasty Traveller Awards 2005 in two prestigious categories: Hardest Place to Get Into and Hardest Place to Get Out Of in recognition of our elaborate visa procedures and shortage of outbound airline seats.

All this means that the strategy of our tourism planners to preserve Nepal's mystique and aura by making it difficult for visitors to get here is working brilliantly. After all, if we flung open our doors for everybody and anybody from anywhere at anytime we would soon lose our magic wouldn't we?

The tactic used to keep all and sundry out is to maintain strict visa procedures and have at least four different queues for arriving passengers at the Tribhuban Unintentional Airport-that way only the most intrepid adventurer will dare come to Nepal and we can separate the wheat from the chaff or in certain cases, separate the goats from the sheep.

Once tourists get here, though, the idea is to prevent them from leaving. (New promo slogan: \'Visit Nepal and Stay There!\'). The way we do that is by strictly limiting the number of airline seats available. Our officials have adopted several extremely effective measures to do just that, like: price disincentives for airlines to fly into Nepal by maintaining the most expensive landing charges and parking fees in the world so that there is always a shortage of seats. The government has also organised an exodus of Nepalis going to the Gulf and Malaysia so all flights are booked till next June. And last but not least the government reduced by half the total fleet strength of Nepal Royalist Airlines during the top tourist season.

But, as we in Nepal have come to realise the hard way, one mustn't rest on one's laurels. We must prepare now to bag more of the World's Top 75 Destinations of Wanderlust Magazine for 2006. Prime candidates are:

. Ghantaghar. The country may have gone back 50 years but it is still ahead of its time because we have the world's Fastest Clock right here in the heart of the city.
. Thamel Trash Heap. What is our unique Selling Point that distinguishes our tourist ghettos from tourist ghettos in Bangkok or Istanbul? That's right, no other country quite rubbishes its own tourism industry as much as we do.
. To offer strong competition to Jaipur, the Pink Turret with strobe lights on Darbar Marg will soon become Nepal's top tourist attraction.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)