The Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) is all set for the country’s tourism season in 2017 (October-November) and is aiming to get the best out of it.
Fighting back the major challenges posed by natural disasters in the recent past, Nepal’s tourism is on the path of recovery and hoping big this time.
Even though Nepal has been the right destination for tourists across the world, the country’s tourism sector has been facing some key issues.
Over the years, the country has allocated various resources for external tourism and as a result, large scale of outbound tourism was observed from the country. However, the domestic tourism on the other side, could not get its required attention.
Addressing such concerns, this time, NTB has decided to boost domestic tourism on par with the external tourism by promoting various local tourist destinations.
Proper tapping of the opportunities created by the increasing disposable income and spending power of Nepalis can give enough boost to the growth of the domestic tourism, opines NTB.
For this, the country’s tourism sector also expects the stakeholders to do their part in addressing key challenges such as infrastructure and investment, promotion and disaster management, and proper marketing, among others for the expansion of domestic tourism.
Towards this end, the Government of Nepal also declared Nepali year 2073 as the Nepal Travel Year and NTB has also allocated Rs 2 million for implementation of promotional activities.
NTB has planned big for the Nepal Tourism Season 2017.
“Last year, there was an exponential growth in the domestic tourism sector as around 4.5 million internal tourists visited different parts of the country. We are hopeful that this year, more number of domestic tourists will visit different parts of Nepal,” says Deepak Raj Joshi, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), NTB.
According to Deepak Joshi, the board is carrying out various promotional activities in this regard to boost the domestic tourism activity during this season.
“For the development of domestic tourism, NTB is currently continuing the last year’s Travel Nepal programs and we have also added other programs such as Photo Nepal for advocating Nepali tourism through photography, Safa Nepal to promote cleanliness around heritage sites and Chulo Nepal to promote Nepali food along with food hygiene,” he informed.
Besides, NTB is also organizing programs to support home-stay services through capacity building, market linkage and other training schemes.
“NTB is only promoting Nepal in international platform. It must introduce programs to promote domestic tourism within Nepal. Furthermore, it should also engage in dialogue with the private sector and allocate budget for programs after discussions and consultation,” says Dilip Mainali, President of Chitwan Tourism Development Committee.
The domestic tourism in Nepal is majorly dependent on seasonal trends. On the flip side, these trends are also posing serious challenges to the industry players in the Nepali tourism sector.
With the tourists flocking to major domestic tourism spots only during the peak season, the tourism entrepreneurs of the country are finding it difficult to safeguard their business interests and investment through dependence on tourism.
“Due to Dashain-Tihar vacation, there is an enormous inflow of Nepali tourists. As a matter of fact, Manang is currently crowded and we are facing problems in accommodating the arrivals. On an average, we are receiving 400-500 domestic tourists per day,” says Binod Gurung, Proprietor of Hotel Yeti and President of Tourism Traders Association (TTA), Manang.
Pokhara, Manang, Mustang, Lumbini, Chitwan, , Tilicho Lake, , Rara Lake and Ghandruk are among the major tourist destinations during the peak season.
Lack of a strong chain network of tourist destinations is being considered as one of the major reasons hindering the growth of domestic tourism in Nepal.
While most of the key domestic tourist spots in Nepal fall under rural parts of the country, tourism industry stakeholders pitch on the need for development of more new destinations.
Stressing on the need for promotion of domestic tourism, Bijaya Amatya, President of Kora Tours, says,” The involvement of youths in adventure tourism is very positive for the industry. However, we need to work on new destinations for adventure tourism. It is not feasible to rely on the old form of adventure sport.”
Amatya calls for a significant involvement of local communities in the initial phases of promoting rural areas as tourism spots under domestic tourism.