Two million tourists for 2020

Visit Nepal 2020 is Nepal Tourism Board’s latest campaign that aims to attract as many as 2 million visitors this year. Better infrastructure, international hotels, and a new airport are all efforts in the direction.

Vartik Sethi from Kathmandu

After the New Year’s celebratory night, Kathmandu woke up to a new mission set by its tourism ministry. With Visit Nepal 2020, Nepal introduced its theme, Lifetime Experiences, to offer tourists with spiritual, religious, luxury, and cultural tourism. The launch of the campaign on January 1 took place at a glittering ceremony alongside Ministerial Conclave 2020. The event hosted cultural performances by skilled bagpipers, students, and dancers. It also honoured Hindu, Buddhist, and Sikh communities that find their dwelling in Nepal. The country received global support as dignitaries from Indian, Jamaican, Chinese, and Bhutanese tourism ministries graced the inauguration of the campaign with their presence.

We are talking to the Indian government, as we want to sell the Buddhist circuit and the Hindu circuit in India and Nepal as a joint destination – Nandini Lahe Thapa

Designating 2020-2030 as the tourism decade, Yogesh Bhattarai, Minister of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation of Nepal, shared his vision to increase Nepal’s tourism contribution to GDP from the current three per cent to as much as 10 per cent in the new decade. “India and Nepal enjoy many similarities like language, culture and religion, which makes the former a very important market for Lord Buddha. We will start its operations in May 2020.” The new airport is expected to be a gateway for Buddhist tourists to the region. Bhattarai, in his speech, impressed upon his aim to increase foreign tourist spend from $44 to $80 (per person, per day) and bring in 3.5 million tourists every year by the 15th five-year plan.

An image makeover

Nepal, primarily known for its spiritual and religious tourism, is relentlessly working to develop various other offerings as well. “We are victims offer than just mountains, and that is what the board is trying to establish.

With India being the biggest source market for Nepal, the Nepalese tourism ministry is strongly inclined to partnering with the Indian government. Thapa added, “We are talking to the Indian government, as we want to sell the Buddhist circuit and the Hindu circuit in India and Nepal as a joint destination which travellers could cover together.”

Infrastructural support

In recent years, many international brands have set up their business in Nepal. “We request investors from India to look upon Nepal as a possibility,” commented Kedar Bahadur Adhikari, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Nepal. The country is hopeful to reinvent its image said, “We have market- specific strategies to target the Indian traveller. One can enjoy a variety of experiences in Nepal, as the country has beguiling, but lesser-known destinations such as Pokhara that reside right under the Annapurna mountain range that offers breathtaking views.” The former CEO also discussed the four segments in the Indian market – pilgrimage, leisure, weekend breaks, and M!CE – that would make the bulk of the ministry’s lap of the snow-capped focus. While luxury and M!CE are new developments in Nepal, hospitality chains like Marriott, Hyatt, and Hilton have introduced their brands to the Nepalese market. “Not only that, specialised boutique segment of hotels are also completing their projects in 2020,” Joshi shared.

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