Are we really prepared for Visit Nepal 2020? Have we used everything that we could to promote this event?
I was going through Instagram posts and came across a majestic photo of Kanchenjunga. The photo was taken from a hotel in Damak, which is situated at an elevation of 126 meters. A 8,586 meter high mountain was looming behind the hills, roughly at a vertical distance of 130 kilometers.
Apart from my own country, I have seen the United States, but I am pretty confident that it’s only in Nepal where you can see such a tall mountain from such a low elevation. Nepal is a gem, but we often fail to market what we have to the international community.
I wasn’t old enough to remember a lot, but the ambience of Visit Nepal 1998 was awesome. May be I was that child who loved festivity, crowd, Lakhey dance with their long hair. I remember how badly I wanted long hair. As Visit Nepal 2020 knocks on our door, we have not done much to welcome the year and welcome tourists from around the world.
A lot to promote
Nepal is an elegant art in a canvas, with a stroke of greenery in the lower part of the canvas slightly moving up through a ruggedly harmonious muddy green taint that blends into a hugely elevated, enthralling and alluring vista of white strokes. It’s a dance of rainbows glittering into the shiny monsoon drops on the south to the bitterly cold and dry landscapes with vibrant prayer flags in the mountains. It’s a bucket of m and m with colors, language, culture, mouth-watering food, and most importantly, that radiant smile and the hospitality of ours. Nepal is beautiful, and Nepal is so much more than the mountains.
Here in the United States, most people don’t know where Nepal is and all they know is our mountains. For some it’s the mountains and momos. Forget about the world, most people in our country don’t know half of the wildlife diversity we have. When I was involved in a Dolphin census project, my friends were shocked to know that we have Dolphins in Nepal, same with Hyenas. There’s so much more we can promote. We have about eight percent of the entire bird population. We have some of the most unique animals, opportunity for ecotourism.
Have we ever thought of turning these assets into a marketing campaign? Not even the likes of tigers or snow leopards or red pandas, the species that bring out the “awww” factor. What’s the point of having biological resources if we can’t channel them into an economic form? Can’t we show the world that we have so much more than just Gaidas? We have endless unique architectural marvels in the forms of temples and traditional houses. Are we promoting those? Tourists plan a trip to Nepal to see historical buildings, monuments, temples and the mountains.
How about we brand air from Everest? Bottled air! Imagine if we have “Air from Mt Everest”. If people are buying air from anywhere, they might as well spend some money to get some air from the world’s highest mountain. We don’t even need to go that far. People sell drinks for hundreds of Euros in Norway just using ice from some fancy glacier.
I bet people would definitely pay some price to drink a cocktail with ice from Everest. Or just think about outdoor winter sports. Ski is slowly growing in Nepal. Why can’t we promote ski in our mountains? Skiing at Annapurna Base camp is slowly becoming a thing. People love tubing, basically take a tube down a river and relax for hours. It’s just a sluggish version of rafting but you can grab a few drinks along the way and have fun with friends. Why can’t we utilize all the water resources we have?
Festivals and food
Nepal is about festivals. The electrifying jatras, the vivid chariots, the crowd and the high spirited ambience of those jatras are always mesmerizing to visitors. Festivals like Tihar, Dashain, Holi are our unique heritage. Some parts of Mexico have started celebrating Kukur Tihar and attract a large number of tourists.
Nepal is about food. I have rarely met a foreigner who hates momos. It’s big here in the US as well. My whole department goes crazy over momos. Be it mouthwatering choilas, bhatmaas saadheko, aalu saadheko, taama, gundruk, bara or everyone’s favorite Daal Bhaat, they are unique and refreshing to foreigners. Local food outlets in the Tarai during dusk, the smell of spices gyrate around the nose as the rich texture and a brilliant taste swirl inside your mouth, burning your taste buds but with a uniqueness that you can rarely find anywhere else.
Nepal is about villages and their unique culture and environment, different lifestyle and habits. Home stays have become a thing in recent years, but have we promoted enough? Uzbekistan’s government invited famous vloggers like Mark Wiens. With over five million subscribers, Wiens can definitely reach out to a large number of potential tourists. How much is it going to cost to invite him and ask him to promote Nepal? I am sure our hotels and airlines and the government can invest in him. There are countless other vloggers and bloggers who could help us reach out to the world. Why not do that? Are we really prepared for Visit Nepal 2020? Have we used everything that we could to promote this event?
The author is a PhD student at North Dakota State University, USA