Monday Jul 4, 2022
Monday Jul 4, 2022

Tourism in Nepal: Is there a way back?


Nepalnews
2021 Dec 12, 16:13, Kathmandu
Morning view of Swaymbhunath in the morning sunshine on November 18, 2021. Photo: Prasan Gurung/Nepalnews

The dust has finally begun to settle, life as a Nepali has started to look more like the carefree 2019 lives we led before the pandemic struck. Businesses and restaurants seem to have returned with their hectic hums of the throngs of people going about their daily lives.

Yet, the same cannot be said about the once thriving Tourism Industry of Nepal. Reports from the Nepal Bureau of Statistics have reported a dreadful 80.7% dip from 2019 to 2020. Although the 2021 numbers see a positive increase in numbers from 2020 of around 60-70k, for a country looking to transition and rely on tourism as a major economic contributor this teeny bit of hope seems to be short-lived with the emergence of Omicron.

Tourism today contributes to a total of 3.0% of the nation's GDP. With local businesses and sites close to ruin, a lack of immediate and affirmative solutions to revive the tourism sector shall see an avoidable yet detrimental halt in the nation's tourism project it so dearly invested in.

If the idea were to instead look outward for a solution to the crisis one need not look far. Only a mere 6,038 km away in the nation of Bosnia and Herzegovina which in tandem with its United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) branch and local organizations such as the Via Dinarica (a nature based tourism initiative), looked to adapt to the new norm by diverting their market to a more COVID considerate approach: the domestic market.

Through government and UNDP investments to stipends towards local businesses and workers along with elaborate social media campaigns, the nation has reformed its tourism market looking to create a more sustainable economy in tourism, one that would adapt and withstand any similar pandemics.

As domestic tourism approximately makes up more than 50% of the total tourism revenue of the country, Nepal should look to transition into developing infrastructures and models that suit the needs of the tourism sphere.

With a record of 83,386 new businesses registered in the 20/21 fiscal year comprising in its majority of small and cottage industries as per the Department of Industry, the stage is set for the government along with the various organisations in Nepal to bring forth this change in strategy to traverse safely through sustainable and domestic solutions to international problems.


paragliding
Photo: Wikicommons/Google
paragliding Photo: Wikicommons/Google

Such models have been adopted and successfully implemented by certain sectors ahead of the curve. One such industry is the paragliding scene of Pokhara that halved its prices during the pandemic which led to full-bookings daily and an exponential increase in interest amongst domestic thrill seekers.

The success of the scheme targeted at the domestic travellers has spurred on nearby hotels and shops to drop their own prices significantly thus helping boost once dwindling sales.

Along with the lure of simply visiting places such as Pokhara, Chitlang and the lot for its picturesque scenes and pilgrimage sites, the added spice of adventure sports paired with lucrative price drops seems to be the perfect antidote to revive the faltering tourism industry of Nepal.

May it be through addressing the lack of a proper tourist bus park in the valley which would make the travel to and fro the popular hotspots of Nepal convenient or simply gearing upcoming budget plans more towards domestic marketing and infrastructure.

The emergence of Omicron and the reaction it provoked from nations such as the USA which restricted travel to numerous countries including France should serve as a wake up call for the policy makers to reconsider the norm and accept and improvise to the new norm. Nepal along with its neighbours still have time to take the proactive route, by providing a safer space for new tourism oriented businesses along with schemes and incentives for existing business.


READ ALSO:

businesses restaurants Nepal Bureau of Statistics Domestic Travellers tourism revenue United Nations Development Programme sustainable Sustainable Economy paragliding Pokhara Chitlang OMICRON
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