It is a matter of pride that Nepal has been placed among the top five tourism destinations in the Asia Pacific region. This ranking comes from the evaluation and assessments made by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA). Natural beauty, lofty Himalayan peaks, including world’s highest Sagarmatha, cultural richness, hospitality and friendliness of the people and a wide variety of flora and fauna have attracted visitors from around the world. This is a paradise for climbers, explorers and adventure seekers. Cultural rites, festivals, costumes, custom and ethnic cuisines are among the things visitors seek in Nepal. From east to west and from the Terai plains to the mountains, there are innumerable things to observe, explore and enjoy.
As the country has come past a phase of political instability and transition with stable and powerful government in place, and the tourism industry is witnessing an encouraging growth in Nepal. Stability and reliable security situation have contributed in attracting increasing number of visitors. In addition to the number of visitors, we also have to look into the length of stay of the visitors and their spending tendencies. Tourists prefer to stay longer and spend more when we are able to offer tourism products through which the visitors can experience more. There are a lot of conditions to be met by the host country. They include availability of flights, ground transport infrastructure, services provided by hotels and lodges, security and promotional packages.
We are on the threshold of Visit Nepal Year 2020, and PATA’s ranking is a matter of encouragement and promotional bonanza. The whole Asia Pacific region saw a positive surge in tourist arrival with the annual growth record 7.3 per cent in 2018. This is the inspiring regional visitors’ trend that has placed Nepal among the top five destinations. Given the growth of tourist arrivals, and if we are able to develop tourism facilities as per the preference of the prospective visitors, the VNY 2020 campaign seems to be headed for success. But there should be no room for complacency. The campaign should move ahead with all aggressiveness and dedication. In this regard, the government and the private entrepreneurs should join hands. Standard of products and quality of services are what matter the most. The tourism entrepreneurs should make sure that service quality is not compromised for the sake of short-term gains.
Besides beckoning attractions, there are still things that need to be improved so that tourists can feel at home in Nepal and keep coming back. Administrative hassles, the impolite approach of some taxi drivers and hotel agents and ever stinking garbage in the capital city are in the list of repulsing factors. Tourist information centres in convenient locations are also lacking. The nation has been declared free from open defecation but the filth on roadsides has not gone away. This is because toilets and lavatories are lacking in public places. More and more communities in Nepal have started homestay schemes for which politeness, healthy food supply, and hygienic surrounding are necessary. In the wake of the PATA assessment, let us hope that Nepal will continue to shine as a destination and bring in more tourists.