The Visit Nepal 2020 campaign has officially begun. Amid the grand celebration in Kathmandu and several places of seven provinces, the program was inaugurated on Wednesday with great fanfare and rejoicing. There have been commitments from all sides to make VNY 2020 a grand success. The opening ceremony has been quite encouraging and given that Nepal is organizing a mega tourism promotion campaign nearly after a decade, it had to be. We fully support the government’s initiative in this regard and wish that VNY 2020 will indeed be able to fulfill its target of bringing two million tourists within this year. That tourism is a mainstay of Nepali economy is a given. Though its contribution to national GDP is not significant enough, around seven percent, tourism sector has opened opportunities for job creation and entrepreneurship development in the country. This despite the fact that the country has not yet been able to tap into full potentials and state’s investment in promotion of this sector has not been encouraging enough. The VNY 2020 will, and should, provide us the direction for doing more in this sector in the days to come.
As the minister of culture, tourism and civil aviation writes in this page, Nepal has a unique natural beauty, cultural, linguistic, religious and biological and geographical diversity. This diversity has many things to offer to the visitors in this country. But this alone won’t be enough to keep the tourists visiting Nepal engaged during their stay here. As we have reminded the tourism authorities in this page time and again, the success of VNY 2020 will largely depend on how effectively we can carry forward publicity campaign, the kind of hospitality we provide to the visitors and tourism infrastructure we have. While the government has done considerably well in terms of publicity and as Nepalis by nature are hospitable people, it can be expected that a lot many tourists will make it to Nepal. There has been encouraging trend in recent years. According to the statistics released by Nepal Tourism Board in November, 2019, tourist arrivals grew by eight percent in the first ten months of 2019. In October, 2019 alone, 143,870 foreign tourists visited Nepal. Tourist arrivals from India (9.1 percent) and China (11.5 percent) have also increased as per the NTB statistics. Nepal received 250,243 tourists from South Asian countries in the first ten months of 2019. The same could be said about European arrivals as the number of tourists coming to Nepal from the UK, Germany and France also witnessed a significant increase. This is a promising sign for Nepal.
But this momentum can be continued only if we prepare the right environment here. It is unfortunate that road maintenance works in Kathmandu Valley have not been completed yet. As we are welcoming the tourists for VNY 2020, our roads should have been perfectly clean and in good conditions. They are not. Dust pollution is still a big problem inside the valley, which could be a big discouraging factor for the visiting tourists. As we move ahead with the VNY 2020, the top most priority of the government should be fixing these issues and ensuring that tourists indeed have lifetime experience while in Nepal. VNY 2020 offers an opportunity for the country to brand itself internationally, raise tourism promotion and make tourism a vital part of Nepali economy. We must not allow this great opportunity to be missed. On this note, we would like to welcome the tourists to visit Nepal in 2020.