An event that should ideally have been praised by the general public has become a subject of criticism because the person who led it did not think well about its timing. The incident is related to publicity campaign launched by Minister of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Yogesh Bhattarai in Sydney. Here is the story. Minister Bhattarai organized the inauguration ceremony of Visit Nepal 2020 campaign there. The Nepali promotional team that reached the Opera House for the inauguration is reported to have been stopped by the city police, inviting criticisms back home. It is learnt that the team comprising non-resident Nepalis, representatives from Nepali embassy and other stakeholders led by the minister was holding a rally carrying banners and flags for the campaign promotion, when they were stopped by the police. The Secretariat of the minister has issued the statement and said that they successfully completed the campaign and they were not stopped as reported in social media. They have said that they were simply enquired by the city police. We would like believe this is true.
But it must be said that Bhattarai’s publicity campaign in Australia was ill timed. Come to think of it. Australia now is engulfed by bushfires in many places and the country is in a tragedy. According to various reports, more than 10.3 million hectares of land—an area the size of South Korea—has been razed by bushfires. The bushfires have killed 25 people and damaged thousands of houses and caused loss of a number of wildlife. Australia is in a kind of mourning. But here was our minister leading a group of officials and NRNs waving national flags and banners leading the procession in the streets of Sydney calling for the city dwellers to come and visit Nepal. Who would take his message seriously in such situation?
There is no denying that Nepal needs to make every effort to make Visit Nepal 2020 successful. And publicity campaign is important for this. The whole nation is in support of this campaign since it was announced. After it was opened with the grand ceremony on January 1, the country has formally embarked on this journey. Minister did the good job for its preparation. But one misstep has made people see Bhattarai as a person who lacks wisdom on when to launch such campaign and where. Tourism minister should at least have taken note of the tragedy Australia is going through. As Bhattarai was preparing to embark on his publicity tour, the news of raging fires and wildlife loss from Australia were coming out in the media. Realizing the sensitivity of the issue, Bhattarai could simply have postponed the tour for later date. He did not do that. Nepali ministers have often failed to properly plan their foreign visits. Many tend to just leave upon getting the invitation. Tourism minister’s Australia fiasco should be a lesson for him and other government ministers how to plan before going on any such publicity tours. When we embark on a campaign without proper planning and without assessing the situation on the ground even the best-intended plan may result in unintended consequences.