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Buoyed by election results, tourism aims for 5 million arrivals

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Dec 15, 2017-Nepal’s tourism industry can look forward to new opportunities following the conclusion of the elections as the new government that will be formed can be expected to bring stability and put an end to the tradition of short-lived governments, government officials and tourism entrepreneurs said on Wednesday.  

Bureaucrats and tourism captains have decided to follow up on the enthusiasm in the air with a clear plan for job creation and economic prosperity. 

As the country is on track to achieving 1 million tourist arrivals this year, they have put forward an ambitious vision of attracting 5 million tourists by 2030. 

The scheme will contribute to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that asks countries to promote sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Of the 17 goals, the SDGs have placed an emphasis on Goals 8, 12 and 14 in which tourism is featured. Tourism is one of the driving forces of global economic growth, and currently accounts for 1 in 11 jobs worldwide, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). 

“The new opportunities coming from a stable government and the kind of perspective that the political parties have put for infrastructure development will stimulate the potential of the tourism industry,” said Yubaraj Khatiwada, former vice-chairman of the National Planning Commission. 

“The figure is attainable, but we need to make extra efforts with regard to marketing the country and keeping infrastructure like airports intact,” he said, speaking 

at the 41st annual general meeting of Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Nepal Chapter.

“The decade-long conflict (1996-2006) had a big impact on the tourism sector. It affected many. However, the industry survived,” he said. “Now, it’s time to jump.” He added that Nepal did not need to go far to look for potential tourists. 

“China and India, both global economic powers, are the foreseeable future for Nepal’s tourism,” he said. 

“A fraction of the outbound from these two countries will help Nepal a lot to attain the target.”

A steady rise in arrivals since 2016 has highlighted the travel sector’s huge potential for growth, but managing that expansion poses several challenges, said participants. 

Deepak Raj Joshi, chief executive officer of the Nepal Tourism Board, said destinations like Nepal would be in a dominant position very soon.

But challenges persist to attract 5 million tourists. The basic thing is infrastructure. If we have three international airports, the goal will be attainable, he said. “Besides, a number of outdated tourism policies need to be changed; and with regard to marketing, we have to create unique massages that are salable.”

Maheswor Neupane, secretary of the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, said, “We have limited infrastructure and policy. In order to achieve the goal of bringing 5 million tourists by 2030, the private sector and the government need to 

work jointly. We are hopeful that the completion of two international airports in Bhairahawa and Pokhara will address the existing infrastructure bottlenecks.” 

He added that more than 50 percent of the air traffic could be shifted to these airports. “This way, we can host at least 3 million tourists annually once the new airports come into operation.” 

Published: 15-12-2017 08:43

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