Nepal should waive visa fees or introduce a visa-free travel policy for selected tourism generating countries for a certain time as it attempts to boost flagging visitor numbers, the Pacific Asia Travel Association (Pata) has suggested.
Unveiling Nepal’s tourism rapid recovery taskforce report on Monday, the Bangkok-based organisation has outlined recommendations for 78 wide-ranging actions. The report is an assessment of how Nepal’s tourism industry can best be stimulated in the short-term period of June-September.
The report said Nepal should go for an aggressive promotion through the media. It said the country should link all the Asian tourism suppliers and the Nepal industry through the slogan the Best Way to Help Nepal is to Visit Nepal and the hash tag #imwithnepal. The report recommends stage actions in four stages—recovery, rehabilitation, normalisation and expansion. The recommendations deal with only the first phase lasting through Sept.
It has suggested conducting a soft launch for Nepal’s “recovery” brand and the tagline “Nepal, Back, on Top of the World” to redefine Nepal’s image and re-position the country from one focused on relief and disaster assistance to one focused on the future.
“Nepali authorities should primarily lobby and convince governments of key source markets to lift any advisories related with travelling to Nepal. The arguments are the same one can use to convince anyone to travel to Nepal,” said Bert van Walbeek, the taskforce leader. “Apart from solidarity, some guarantees need to be provided about the visitors’ safety.”
The report has suggested if the recovery levels are not yet satisfactory, the focus of visitation can be shifted to safer areas such as Chitwan, Pokhara, Janakpur and other parts that have plenty to offer.
The study has recommended focusing on neighbouring markets. Due to “access” challenges and restricted direct flights to Nepal from European destinations (except from Turkey), many tourists who would perceive Nepal as a faraway destination may be less reluctant to visit if this visit is part of a larger package that will include places in south China or northern India, the report said.
For airlines, the best they can provide are seats and related products distributed in numerous ways and support the action mentioned above to be taken concerning accessibility by air which has to be made in a speedy manner as October will be approaching momentarily. The country should prepare for an extreme makeover of Tribhuvan International Airport, it said.
The report has suggested that the action taken by airlines should be related to their respective markets. For instance, Chinese and Indian carriers should campaign for Chinese and Indian tourists respectively.
Pata has advised that Nepal Airlines or the Nepal Tourism Board be the focal point for coordinating the above actions in which airlines would expect full support as well as prompt action.
Multiple-entry permits for single-entry fees
The travel trade fraternity has urged the government to change its visa system allowing new multiple-entry tourism permits for tourists for the same fee being charged for single-entry permits. In a workshop-cum-seminar on post earthquake tourism development held in Pokhara on Monday to discuss various issues related to tourism recovery, stakeholders issued a 51-point Pokhara Declaration to revive the tourism industry which is in a shambles. Members of the parliamentary Development Commi-ttee, Tourism Minister Kripasur Sherpa, Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat and officials from the Nepal Tourism Board and Pata attended the workshop which was inaugurated by CA Chairman Subhas Nembang. The Pokhara Declaration urges the government to reduce the tourist entry fee in controlled areas like Upper Mustang and Dolpa to $100 per tourist for 10 days from the existing $500. Minister Mahat said that his ministry would be ready to help the tourism industry to recover by allocating the necessary budget. He hoped that Nepal’s tourism would bounce back soon as the country is loved by all. The declaration has also advised the government to introduce a multiple-entry system for tourists in the Annapurna Conservation Area and other regions.