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Published on : Sunday, July 5, 2015
SAMARTH Nepal Market Development Program (NMDP) organized an interaction program titled the “Turning Point in Tourism” at the hotel Annapurna in Kathmandu, to support the continued efforts by the Nepal tourism industry to recover in-bound tourism.
The event was doing well in bringing together international tour operators and Nepal tourism operators to discuss how to turn tourism recovery into a reality.
Mr. Wouter Schalken, Tourism Component Manager of SAMARTH, inaugurated the meeting and welcomed 7 leading tour operators from Europe, the US, Australia, and Asia. Almost all of them had a valid concern over the negative travel advisories against Nepal, directly affecting travel, travel insurance, and killing the business. Needless to say, it has posed a great hurdle for the country’s tourism recovery efforts.
Since 2014, the bookings for Nepal have significantly dropped. Now after the earthquake it has been a daunting task to get the bookings for Nepal.
Mick Chapman of Himalaya Guides UK/Australia, which brought over 2,000 tourists to Nepal yearly, also expressed his concern over the preparedness of the destination. He opined that it needed to boost professionalism and quality to regain the confidence of the market.
According to Kuniaki Takahashi Japan has not issued any negative travel advisory against Nepal. However, there is clearly some confusion about the safe or unsafe places in Nepal. This has resulted in lack of confidence to travel to the places which were actually not much affected by the earthquake. Hence, he insisted on one gateway for clear and precise communication which both the traveler and tour operator could trust.
Jurgen Skambraks of Hauser Excursion also raised a valid concern about some earlier press releases from Nepal which mentioned it as a safe destination. He asked for specifics when communicating to the western market about how and why it is safe. He insisted that more specific communication be helpful and trustworthy. He also requested the government bodies to simplify the process instead of complicating it when trying to obtain trek/expedition permits.
The presentation by the international tour operators was followed by a discussion and Q&A session which was moderated by the Nepal Association of Tour Operators (NATO) President, Ashok Pokharel. It was a very engaging session as it helped the local operators to understand the expectations and perceptions of foreign tour operators.
The industry cannot thank SAMARTH enough for inviting the tour operators to Nepal from different continents and holding an effective interaction, which is the need of the hour.
It was obvious that the world is sympathetic towards Nepal. However, the recovery of the tourism industry is entirely dependent on sensible actions of its leaders, entrepreneurs, and other stakeholders. Nepal has to focus on tourism in order to turn its sorrow into a stepping stone for sustainable development of the nation.