March 6, 2020 10:00 AM NPT
Photo: Cilla Khatry/Republica
We were expecting two million tourists to visit Nepal this year but it looks like we might not reach the target due to the outbreak of coronavirus in China and various other countries. Even before the Visit Nepal Year 2020 campaign was officially launched, tourism entrepreneurs had serious doubts about attracting two million tourists due to inadequate tourism infrastructure in our country.
Our tourism minister was in Australia at the wrong time but he didn’t want to cancel the visit at the last minute because he was dead serious in promoting our country no matter what. Thank God, he is not in China right now, trying to carry out another promotional campaign. I think our mantris’ advisors should at least read international news before they head overseas to waste our taxpayers’ hard-earned money.
Let us take a minute to feel sorry for our tourism minister because he just can’t seem to get anything right. He now tells us that his ministry is looking for alternative markets such as the Sheikhs from the Middle East. Well, those folks have plenty of money and they will only be staying at five-star hotels and resorts and flying charter flights all over the country if they do come to Nepal. Private helicopter companies and five-star hotels might make a few Dinars but that’s not really going to help much. We need millions of tourists so that millions of us can save some money after they spend their dough here.
Maybe it’s time to focus on us, the domestic tourists, instead and make our national campaign a success. Yes, scrap all international campaigns and let’s focus on the people here at home for once. After all, it seems that we, Nepalis, spend more than the majority of tourists we get in our country, sometimes even combined in a season.
A foreign tourist travels on a budget. Most of them work, save and then make plans to visit Nepal. Most of the tourists do spend most of their dough in India and then hop on a bus and enter Nepal to spend their last remaining 100 dollars. No wonder for you can get hotel rooms in Thamel for less than five dollars a day.
Maybe, we should learn a thing or two from Bhutan. Yes, let’s set a price like the Bhutanese. We want high-spending tourists, not tourists who spend less than a domestic tourist would spend when they visit Pokhara. Well, we can’t blame them for only drinking a bottle of beer in five hours while Nepalis drink five bottles in an hour. Maybe, we just need more Polish and Russian tourists and that way our vodka manufacturers could also make a killing as well.
So, it’s time for the folks at the Nepal Tourism Board and the VNY 2020 secretariat to spend some dough, if there is any left that is, to promote our local places among the locals. It’s about time our government offered us rebates or stipends so that we, Nepalis, can visit Rara, Muktinath and other beautiful places in our land.
How about offering us a thousand rupees if we do manage to get say at least 100 kilometers away from our homes and visit a local tourist or religious place? I think the government used to have similar packages for civil servants. Our government should give us some dough back so that we can support local businesses as well.
Maybe the government should come up with a new policy when it comes to promoting domestic tourism. If you do go to Thailand during Dashain and spend 1000 dollars there then you should spend the same amount back home too. So, if you had fun in Pattaya and Bangkok during your five-nights, six-days stay in Thailand then you should spend the same amount in Pathivara and Baglung.
But what if you don’t have all that extra cash to go to foreign lands for a vacation? Then the government should give us some of our taxpayers’ money back to fund our vacation here at home. Our incompetent communist government can at least claim to be the party of the people if it decides to give some dough back to the people.
We really don’t care if Bam Dev wants to be our prime minister through the window or the back door or wherever possible. We really don’t care if Prachanda becomes the prime minister again because not much will change in this country. But we will care if our government for once decides to give some money back to the people instead of only providing funds and misusing our taxpayers’ money on their own cadres, contractors, and cousins.
If the government really cares then it’s about time it did something for its people. Our government doesn’t care about controlling corruption, pollution, inflation and frustrations of the people. But the least it could do is, for once, spend some money on the people. Let people from Darchula visit Dhulikhel. Give them a free bus ride. Let people from Lubhu visit Lumbini. Give them free accommodation. Our netas should understand that giving back sometimes would perhaps help us forget the fact that the rest of times it’s only sucking us dry.
Guffadi is a grumpy old man who blogs at guffadi.blogspot.com. You can contact him at email@example.com.