Have you heard of the recently announced campaign of ‘Ghumfir Barsa’ or Travel Year for the year 2073 B.S in Nepalese calendar? Yes you heard it right! In a bid to rescue the tourism industry the government has this time focused on the domestic tourists. Some incentives are announced especially for the Civil servants that compel them to have at least a week’s ‘vacation’ in any of the tourist destination in Nepal. However Trekking in Nepal doesn’t seem to be the first priority of government.
Probable reasons Trekking in Nepal isn’t on the priority
Trekking in Nepal is among the most popular adventure activities for the foreigners who arrive in this beautiful nation for adventure. The numbers of Nepalese trekkers who explore their homeland are few. So, is this the major reason behind government’s lack of interest for trekking in Nepal under this campaign?
Probably yes. 0ther way round the government, yet to announce the campaign through the honorable Prime Minister on April 24 2016, has primarily focused on sightseeing. The reason behind this is that majority of the domestic travelers who go for touristic activities within Nepal opt for sightseeing in the popular destinations. Considering the previous ‘not so successful’ campaigns of Visit Nepal ’98 and Nepal Tourism Year 2011, government has probably gone for safe option in this campaign.
The other reason might be the availability of packages with the travel agencies. Most of the travel agencies have their trekking packages for foreigners who wish for trekking in Nepal. The itineraries and pricing are all focused for foreigners. So it is obvious on the part of government, who has to partner with the private sector, to go with the flow and make sightseeing as the focus rather than trekking in Nepal.
Why should Trekking in Nepal be one of the focus areas in this Travel Year?
Domestic travel spending is expected to grow to Rs. 83.8 billion in 2015. The fund set aside by the government for National Reconstruction Authority in the previous budget was Rs. 74 billion. Considering the rising popularity of trekking among the youths and middle class families trekking in Nepal should also be the focus of government as some of the expenditure gets diverted to rural sector. The reasons for focus of government towards trekking may be explained in the following paragraphs.
1. Trekking in Nepal is done in the rural and remote areas, the areas worst hit by the devastating earthquake. Areas such as Langtang, were among the worst hit. The tracks in Everest and Annapurna region were also affected by the calamity. Diverting the flow of domestic travelers in the trekking helps in the uplifting the rural economy.
2. Trekking in Nepal can also be combined with the volunteering activities in the areas worst hit by the earthquake. We are already close to the anniversary of the calamity and the reconstruction activity is going at a slower pace. Such volunteering packages combined with the trekking activity may boost the rebuilding activity to some extent.
3. Encouraging domestic visitors for trekking also sends positive message to the international community about the safety of Nepal and readiness to welcome them. Moreover, government plans to run another campaign of International Tourism Year for the year 2017-18. The success of this campaign shall be a boost to the upcoming campaign with higher significance.
4. Trekking in Nepal, as a focus of this campaign, shall also be helpful for executing the concept of Responsible Tourism as well as sustainable tourism. The sightseeing has limited appeal while trekking sector has been discovering newer trails and thereby adding variety to the packages being offered. This campaign should capitalize this potential of trekking sector.
The announcement of another campaign from the government is a welcoming move. In a gloomy environment marred by earthquakes and economic blockade by the neighboring India, this campaign is vital. However, the government focusing on the trekking in Nepal adds beauty to the much needed effort on the part of government. With the joint effort of public and private sector, seriousness execution by the concerned authorities and enthusiasm from the other stakeholders shall definitely make this campaign a huge success. The only factor to be considered is the impact of this campaign on the sustainability and growth of tourism sector, which can be enhanced by promotion of trekking in this campaign.