The author originally titled this article "Lack of Motivation, Infrastructure, and Systematic Management Are Major Problems for Growth of Domestic Tourism in Nepal".
Travel and tourism, whether domestic or International were rapidly growing in Nepal until March 2020. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, all the tourism businesses came crashing down.
The essential part of developing the tourism industry is transportation, but suitable accommodation, natural resources, and a system of communities are other services that promote domestic as well as international tourism.
According to the Economic Impact report by the world travel and tourism council, the total contribution of travel and tourism to the GDP of Nepal was 6.7% in 2019, 7.9 % in 2018, 8.3 % in 2017, and 8.1 % in 2016 respectively. Similarly, the contribution of travel and tourism to employment is 6.9% of total employees which translated to 10,34,000 jobs. As such, tourism is an integral backbone of Nepal's economy.
Our country Nepal is one of the favorite tourist destinations for the whole world. Buddha was born in Nepal, a fact that has made the country a major travel destination for people primarily in Asia and other continents. Mount Everest, top trekking destinations, and wildlife safari centers; we have plenty to boast. However, for some reason, Nepal's domestic tourism does not seem to have gone in sync with the volume of international tourists that we receive. In a way, Nepal is a perfect travel destination, but Nepalese do not travel.
Furthermore, Nepalese tourism industries are not treating domestic tourists with as much hospitality as they do international tourists when they visit. To boost domestic tourism, proper planning, marketing, infrastructure development, and holiday package for domestic visitors are necessary. There are few destinations in our country which domestic tourists visit such as Lumbini, Pokhari, Muktinath, Manakamana, Pathibhara, Kathmandu, Ilam, etc. Further, the interest of domestic tourists is in bungee jumping, rafting, paragliding, mountain cycling, tracking, hiking, etc.
According to Lumbini Development Trust, in 2018, the total number of Nepalese visitors is 11,55,548 per year. Likewise, According to Nepal Air Sports Association Pokhara, Nepalese people who did paragliding in Pokhara from 2015 to 2018 are 3307, 4675, 4887, and 5919 respectively. Pokhara, Kathmandu, and Lumbini are the three major domestic destinations in Nepal.
In 2015, the Nepalese government faced a major problem in the tourism sector due to the earthquake. At that time it was a good time to boost internal tourism in Nepal. However, Nepal Tourism Board was trying to lunch Ghumphir Year 2016. They even tried to use social media and digital tools to encourage youth. Further, in the budget of the 2070-71 government announced forced leave of 15 days for government employees which have given support to promote domestic tourism. However, both were not effective. Now also, the same problem befalls our country and it will take more than one year to boost this business. Eight 5 star hotels and more than a hundred starred hotels are in pipeline to open soon. We can certainly expect this to promote both domestic and international tourism.
A couple of months ago I read news in a daily national newspaper. In order to promote domestic travel, the Ministry of Culture, Tourism, and Civil Aviation minister Yogesh Bhattarai is trying to implement one strategy. The strategy is to give two days of public holiday for government employees. Despite the various problem of internal tourism in our country, we can use billions of rupees in the right destination by giving different facilities to domestic people. There are few strategies which really help to encourage the people to visit our own country and it helps tourism investors to hold and continue their business and provide many job opportunities to the youth. Only public holidays cannot promote domestic visitors. Nonetheless, this is also a way to encourage people.
To encourage domestic tourism, all government, non-government, forum, financial institutions, local body,
should segregate their budget for the same. This may also mean rewarding the best performers from among the employees with a travel coupon or a holiday package. This is a good way to promote healthy competitiveness in the workplace while contributing to domestic tourism.
Encouraging domestic tourism is all about proper planning, organizing, motivation, encouragement, and development of infrastructure. With the right resources employed at the right places, the future of domestic tourism in Nepal will be beaming.
Article by Sarad Chandra Dahal
Employed in Crowne Hotel Melbourne, Australia
Formal Assistant Manager at Soaltee Crowne Plaza
Formal lecturer at Himalayan College of Management
10 years of experience in branded hotel chains (Marriott, Radisson, Intercontinental Hotel Group)
MBA From Bangalore University