Nepal Tourism – Kantipur Conclave

Kantipur Conclave and its various sponsors deserve a pat on the back for shedding light on some of the most pertinent issues of Nepal and having this public discourse with the experts on the panel. They have some great sessions on Nepal’s present and future, technology, economy and much more. I haven’t watched all of them, but looks like all sessions are quite susbtantial.

With this one particularly, felt like I had to write about it because tourism is one of the major drivers of economic growth in Nepal. Despite having so much potential, it seems that Nepal has not been able to fully tap into its resources. As I kept listening and watching, it felt like this session was very critical of the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) and was too fixated on the number of two million visitors.

You have to give NTB the benefit of the doubt. Yes, we all know it is all about the infrastructure. Can the Nepali infrastructure support the onslaught of two million visitors? Yes, it is all about focusing on quality, not quantity. We all know that. But are we really drawing unexpected expectations?

Since this session focused so much on the two million number, let me address the number bit. Two million is really not that big of a number. Now numbers are all very relative. Are we really thinking that Nepal will get two million visitors in one day? I hope not. Cause if that’s the case, yes, Nepal cannot handle that many visitors. There are many similar countries like Nepal or geographically way smaller countries like Croatia that hosted over 18 million visitors in the year 2018. Now, I know what you are thinking: they have a great infrastructure, they have a great government, the placement of the country in the world map is bound to attract so many tourists, their population is so well controlled…on…and on… Yes, I agree, but can we begin somewhere? And why that cannot be two million?

Really, look at all the work that’s being done. New Lumbini airport? I didn’t know that was happening anytime soon. Clearly, the government is making a big push – so at least can we collectively appreciate the government ‘s effort?

Let’s face it, to get somewhere we have to begin somewhere. Numbers alone do not tell the complete story but at least it helps us to an extent understand a situation. I am not concerned whether we would be able to hit the two million mark. I am curious what will happen post-2020 Visit Nepal. I am curious about what kind of benchmark it will set. If not anything, I think this Visit Nepal 2020 would be a great case study. I am curious how tourists will respond from all strata. I am curious where it will lead Nepal, I am curious about the innumerous possibilities.

In a country where it is so hard for even a small change to take place; the fact that government is simultaneously getting its hands on the airport development, transportation development, road expansion in the context of visit Nepal – is a positive welcome. I think it will set a great precedent for future endeavors.

For way too long, the emphasis has been the number. The conversation should have shifted towards what is the government doing to support that number of visitors. Our Everest route is probably the biggest money maker. There are a huge need and scope to streamline the Everest industry alone. I would have liked to hear more about that. How are they handling the cleanups, the insurance scams? Perhaps better equipping Lukla airport with medical teams so people didn’t have to lose lives just cause they weren’t able to be flown to Kathmandu or Pokhara on time. Giving quality service and having a proper game plan. But regardless, this was an overall interesting discourse. As a citizen of Nepal, I appreciate the effort that the government is making to elevate Nepal on the global map. Hope it all works out and good luck!

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