In not less than 25 days from today, Visit Nepal 2020 will officially start. The VNY 2020 has been one of the most important flagship programs of the government of KP Sharma Oli. It indeed is a landmark event for Nepal to tap into our immense tourism potentials to contribute to nation’s economy and development. The last time Nepal held such an event was in 1998. For ten years, from 1996 to 2006, Nepal could not attract more tourists due to armed insurgency. Nepal, then, was perceived as a country ravaged by the civil war. Then as the country was beginning to get back to its feet from years of political conflict, the devastating earthquakes left many of the historical and cultural monuments—the major attractions for tourists visiting Nepal—into ruins. But things have changed for the better in recent years. The country resolved the conflict in a truly exemplary way. In between, Nepal drafted the new constitution through the Constituent Assembly and now we have 761 functioning governments in local, provincial and federal spheres. Nepal no longer is the country that witnesses protests and demonstrations on a daily basis—something that had become the norm during the transitional political era. Thus for Nepal, there is no better time than now to welcome tourists and there was no better time than now for the event like VNY too.
But given the pace of our infrastructure construction and maintenance, there is still a room to doubt that we will be able to bring in as many as two million tourists as has been targeted by the government. As things stand, our road infrastructures—both inside and outside the Kathmandu Valley—are in state of disrepair. The government geared up efforts for blacktopping the roads during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Kathmandu in October. A number of maintenance works have been accomplished for South Asian Games. But we are yet to complete blacktopping of roads along major hotel areas. Maintenance of Chabahil-Sankhu and Bhaktapur-Nagarkot sections of the road is yet to be accomplished. We will have to ensure that our road infrastructures are in the best shape and that our transportation services will be smooth and reliable.
This is urgent because we do not have many days left. The government must pay serious attention toward this fact. It would be better if Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation make public the status report of its preparation for the event. Besides, the Ministry needs to start monitoring the progress of preparation and oversee the works happening on the ground. Some well-meaning personalities such as Chinese actress Xu Qing, who has been appointed as a goodwill ambassador for the Visit Nepal 2020 campaign, have been promoting Nepal’s tourism and spreading positive message of Nepal on the eve of VNY. But we as a nation can spread such message across the globe only when we can make the best possible preparation. Our Himalayas, monuments and cultural diversity have always been the source of attraction for people worldwide. But for the mega event like VNY, we need to make the preparation in such a way that every visiting tourist will feel home while they are in Nepal. VNY can be instrumental in promoting Nepal as the best tourist destination. The government should not spare any effort to make it a success.