Sunday, 5 December, 2021

Popular Destinations Need Safety Measures


Wenxian Zha and Wei Zong

Nepal is a land-locked country in the Himalayas, bordering with Tibet, China, on the north and India on the south, east and west. Nepal is also the birthplace of Sakyamuni Buddha and Buddhism.The long historical and cultural resources and unique geographical environment have laid the foundation for tourism development of Nepal.
Nepal is one of the most popular destinations for international visitors, with 976,000 international tourists visiting Nepal in 2019, up 8 per cent year-on-year. With about 146,000 Chinese visitors among them, China is the second largest source of foreign tourists for Nepal, according to Xinhua news. Thus it can be said Nepal’s tourism sector has received a large number of Chinese tourists, and main tourism products are hiking, mountaineering, skydiving, rafting, trekking and so on, and they mostly belong to exciting and adventurous tourism activities, which require guarantee of advanced safety facilities in place.
With the continuous development of the tourism industry of Nepal, the number of international tourists visiting the country is rising. At the same time, the number of foreign tourists in Nepal exceeded 1 million for the first time in 2018.
According to global economic data of the World Trends Database, the tourism revenues of Nepal amounts to $643 million, and the travel agencies and tourism sector of Nepal provide 1.05 million jobs for the Nepali people, while the industry contributes 7.9 % to GDP of the country.
With the rise in tourist arrival, tourism safety has become a paramount important issue, and it should be accorded due priority by the concerened authorities. What’s more, the Nepalese government and the operators of tourism industry should attach importance to the safety of international tourists. For international tourists, although Nepal has unique natural tourism resources, the following problems such as the poor security services, insufficient cooperation in tourism development, low safety awareness of some leaders of tourism sectors and inadequate emergency measures are raised frequently. In recent years, there are high frequency of accidents taking place in tourism sector.
According to Xinhua News Agency, on March 5, 2019, the three paragliding accidents happened within three days in the tourist resort of Nepal, resulting in two death and one injury. On August 8, 2019, a bus carrying Chinese tourists met with an accident injuring five people. Recently in a tragic incident eight Indian tourists lost their lives due to suffocation at a tourist resort in Daman, Makawanpur in the third week of January, 2020. This incident could be an exception but it could as well be a sole example of sheer negligence of safety measures. Concerned authorities should take measures to avoid such incidents which might impact negatively in the idustry's potential growth.
In November 2001, China set up an office of the National Tourism Administration in Nepal. China and Nepal formally signed the Memorandum of Understanding on the Implementation Plan for Chinese Citizens Travel to Nepal, which provides a legal guarantee for the citizens of the two countries to travel. Under the strategy of "One Belt and one Road", the projects cooperation also on tourism between China and Nepal has been strengthened, mainly focusing on the fields of infrastructure such as transportation, hydropower and communications.
On October 12-13, 2019, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Nepal, and signed 20 agreements about connectivity, security, border management, trade, tourism and education with the leader of Nepal. At the same time, the strategy of "One Belt and One Road" has become an opportunity for the two countries to develop the cooperation in tourism.
There has not been as much cooperation between the two neighbours in tourism security. The tourism safety cooperation between the two countries has been implemented insufficiently, resulting in frequent tourism safety accidents. Both the countries need to work on ensuring timely personal safety of tourists. 

In terms of tourism safety cooperation, four matters need special attention. First, China and Nepal should step up efforts to standardise the tourism markets, supervise the safe operation of tourism enterprises, and prevent illegal tourism enterprises from entering the tourism market in Nepal. Second, the government should increase the investment of funds, improve the construction of safety infrastructure, set up the security department of emergency management in the scenic spot and take the emergency measures of risk management and control of various tourism projects so that the risk can be effectively supervised and mitigated. Third, the tourism supervision and control departments of China and Nepal should impart business training on safety emergency knowledge and measures for the tourism enterprises in order to enhance their safety awareness. Fourth China should consult with Nepal and work out the cooperation mechanism of tourism safety management, and the two sides should work together to ensure tourisam safety of citizens.
Looking ahead, Nepal is bound to the Switzerland of the East, and attract more international visitors through its safer and more comfortable environment. Endowed with natural heritage such as the Himalayas including the highest peak Mt. Everest and fast flowing rivers where one can enjoy wonderful rafting and cultural heritage such as Lumbini, Nepal offers varieties of unspoilt tourism products.
Nepal has great potential for economic development through tourism. And safety of tourist is one of the most important issues for tourism development in any country.

(Wenxian Zha is a scholar at Yunnan University and Wei Zong, Scholar, Kunming Institute for Advanced Information Studies, P. R. China)