Revival of Tourism in Nepal after Earthquake and Blockade: A Brief Report

Nepal Tourism Youth Association (NTYA) in cooperation with Here we go travel management company organised a “Grand talk program on revival of tourism in Nepal after earthquake and blockade” on 16th March 2016 at Nepal Academy of Tourism and Hotel Management (NATHM). The interaction program witnessed the presence of Honourable State Minister of Tourism, Culture and civil Aviation Mr.Bal Bahadur Mahat as Chief Guest. CEO of Nepal Tourism Board Mr. Deepak Raj Joshi, Acting Director General of Department of Tourism, Member Secretary of Pashupati Development Trust Dr.Govinda Tandan, Representatives from Boudha Development Committee, Prof. Dr. Tara Devi Chitrakar from Public Youth Campus and Managing Director of Bon Holidays Mr. Apurwa Rayamajhi were the guest speakers at the interaction. The interaction session was conducted in the form of question and answers with the speakers and was moderated by Mr. Damber Bhatta, Editor-in-Chief of kutniti.com.

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Mr. Apurwa Rayamajhi representing the private sector stated that almost 80% of business was down because of earthquake of April last year and blockade because of the political unrest in Terai region of Nepal though there wasn’t a red carpet even before these devastating events. He said that Government should come up with not only a clear recovery plan but also a clear vision with a solid timeline and should win the confidence of private sector in making the future of Nepalese tourism industry brighter. He also informed that private sector is actively participating in social networking sites to repair the destroyed image of Nepalese tourism industry through campaigns like #NepalNow and #YOUHIKETHEYRISE.

Director General of Department of Tourism informed that Nepal Government has come up with the policy of allowing the tourists who have already taken permit for expedition or Mountaineering or trekking or any other tourism related activities but did not complete the activities can involve themselves into those activities within two years with the same charge they paid. He also said that Department of Tourism is coordinating with all stakeholders to rebuild or repair the damaged heritage sites or infrastructures and also coordinating with the private sector to help them in reviving their business.

CEO of Nepal Tourism Board, Mr. Deepak Raj Joshi highlighted the point that, the physical loss is one obvious part because of the earthquake and blockade but the larger challenge is to recover from the damaged image of Nepal in the tourist generating market. For this, he argued NTB is participating in different International conferences, seminars and tourism fairs and trying to disseminate positive messages regarding tourism industry in Nepal. He also added that immediately after the earthquake NTB released an info graphics disseminating the true information outside the country that only few districts has been affected by earthquake and other parts are safe for travel which created positive vibes in tourist generating market. He also informed that NTB is in constant talk with International Media houses to market Nepal in international tourism market despite the limitation of resources NTB is facing. According to him, NTB is trying its best to mitigate its lack of resources by coordinating with government, private sector and different donor agencies.

Supplementing the comments by CEO of NTB, Mr. Sunil Sharma, officiating director, PR and publicity at NTB urged youths to remain in touch with activities of NTB via Facebook, websites or any other means and suggest NTB if they have some creative ideas to develop tourism industry in Nepal. He assured youths present in the program of accommodating their genuine and innovative ideas for making tourism industry better.

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Representatives from Boudha Development Committee stated that the rebuilding and renovation of badly damaged Boudhnath Stupa, which is also an UNESCO world Heritage Site has already been started. According to him, instead of waiting for the funds from government, they started the process of rebuilding with the coordination of local people, different youth organisations and from the committee’s fund itself. He hoped that government and private sector will join hands in the rebuilding process very soon.

Dr. Govinda Tandan, Member Secretary of Pashupati Development Trust expressed his disappointment saying that there is no help from either government nor from private sector to rebuild the destructed temples, monuments within Pashupati area. He said that most of the land and property of Pashupatinath Temple is under guthisansthan and hence the trust is not able to access to the property of the temple resulting in lack of funds. He also argued that the Tribhuwan International Airport pays a nominal rent to trust for using land of the Pashupati area, which doesn’t generate enough funds. He urged the private sector and youth to come up to preserve and develop the cultural and religious sites in the country and he remained positive regarding the prospects of the nation.

Prof.Dr. Tara Devi Chitrakar raised the point of inclusion of the students studying tourism in the policy making and designing promotional activities by the government bodies so that they could learn and contribute with their full vigour at the same time.

Chief Guest of the program, honourable state Minister of Tourism, Culture and Civil Aviation Mr.Bal Bahadur Mahat said that although the physical loss is there because of earthquake and blockade, the more important loss is of damaged image. He said after earthquake there was feeling outside the country that whole of Nepal collapsed because of the earthquake which is not the reality. And according to him Ministry in coordination with NTB and other stakeholders is trying its best to repair this damage. He also urged the Media houses to disseminate the information in positive manner so that the reality should be depicted properly.

Participating actively in the interaction sessions, the participants from different tourism related organizations and undergraduate students studying in different colleges in Kathmandu Valley raised the questions related to problems in tourism industry ranging from the lacunae in policy making to the mismanagement at only international airport of the country. The guest speakers respond the queries and issues raised with greater zeal and all the speakers agreed with the point that now we should focus less on talks and more on the real works, they also said that youths should be more responsible to work for the development and promotion of tourism in Nepal.

The purpose of the talk program and the initiative of youths in the form of Nepal Tourism Youth Association for tourism development in Nepal was introduced and explained by Mr.Rupesh Kumar Jha, General Secretary of NTYA.

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