POKHARA, July 8: Stakeholders have urged the government to take needful initiative for increasing tourist spending in the country. They said that Nepal will continue to be known as a ‘cheap destination’ if tourist spending does not increase.
“Foreign tourists spend an average US$ 53 a day in Nepal. We should provide them quality service and make them pay more,” Kishor Thapa, a former secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, said at an interaction on ‘Tourism Infrastructures in Gandaki Province’ organized in Pokhara on Saturday.
“Nepal has abundant resources. We only need to make it accessible to tourists and provide them all facilities that they need,” he said, adding that the average length of stay of foreign tourists in Nepal was 13 days.
Thapa said there is a need to explore new destinations nearby existing destinations so as to increase stay and spending of tourists.
“Along with Pokhara, Manang, Mustang, Annapurna Region, Manaslu Region, Bandipur, Dhorpatan and upper reaches of Gorkha are the popular tourist attractions in Gandaki Province. Other destinations like Lamjung, Syangja, Myagdi, Parbat and Baglung, however, are not getting much priority,” he said.
The former secretary also said that it was high time local tourism entrepreneurs explored the possibility of promoting eco-tourism, agri-tourism and other specialized tour products to bring more tourists. Citing the example of paragliding, Thapa said: “Pokhara has emerged as the capital of air sports in Nepal. There is a need to expand it to other districts of the province.”
He also said that the provincial government should create environment conducive for bringing international hotel chains so as to attract quality tourists. “There is also a need to build an international convention center to bring to tap Meeting, Incentive, Conference and Exhibition (MICE) segment,” Thapa added.
Ananda Raj Mulmi, former president of Nepal Chamber of Commerce (NCC), has said that it is unfortunate that foreign tourists are taking back money they intended to invest here due to cheap tourism products and services in Nepal. “Compared to other countries, we are selling our products and services very cheap. Tourists as spending as much $500 in countries like Vietnam and Cambodia. But they are spending only around $50 here,” Mulmi said, urging tourism entrepreneurs to focus on quality rather quantity.
“By diversifying our tourism destinations and services and promoting new destinations, we can increase stay and spending of foreign tourists,” he added.
Responding to tourism stakeholders, Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Rabindra Adhikari said that poor connectivity and pollution in Kathmandu were affecting tourist arrivals in the country.
He suggested local tourism entrepreneurs to focus on India and China which are seeing healthy growth in outbound tourism.