"Navigating Nepal: Bijay Amatya Shares Strategies to Revitalize Nepal's Tourism Industry"
Nepal, a country known for its rich cultural heritage, scenic beauty, and adventurous sports, has been hit hard by natural calamities and the pandemic. Despite these challenges, the Nepalese tourism industry is on the road to recovery. In an effort to achieve that, tourism experts are discussing their experiences, opinions, ideas, and solutions to overcome the obstacles in the industry in Tourism Mail's "Navigating Nepal" talk segment.
In this segment, Bijay Amatya, the CEO of Kora Tours, joined the conversation. With his vast knowledge and expertise, he shed light on the challenges faced by Nepal's tourism industry, as well as the emerging trends.
Amatya highlighted the fact that Nepal still faces the backlash of the 2015 earthquake, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the current economic crisis. He also emphasized the need for strategies to counter these problems to advance "The Future of the Nepalese tourism sector."
As of June 2023, Indian tourists were in the first place among the total number of tourists who came to Nepal via air. Similarly, tourists from America and China came in second and third place, respectively. Despite this, Nepal still has a long way to go to reach its tourism potential, especially in light of the failed "Visit Nepal 2020" campaign, which was launched just as Covid-19 struck.
Over and above, Amatya chiefly suggested that Nepalese tourism authorities should focus on investing more on infrastructure and marketing to enhance the footfall of tourists in Nepal, and at present situation Nepal should focus their marketing on neighboring countries such as India and Bangladesh, followed by trekking, culture tours, and welfare initiatives. This, he said, would attract more tourists from neighboring countries like India and Bangladesh.
During our conversation, Amatya addressed some questions that delved into various aspects of Nepal's tourism sector. Here are his insightful responses:
Q: What should be the focus of Nepal's tourism industry?
A:Amatya replied, “I have been very vocal, vocal in the sense, of utilizing the platform of all social and voicing the need for the tourism sector in Nepal to focus more and more on investing its attention towards its neighboring countries' tourists, such as Bangladesh, India, and so on, this should be Nepal's course of action in order to recover its tourism sector.
He also suggested that Nepal should concentrate on offering a diverse portfolio of niche tourism products. This includes ventures such as adventure tourism, festivals, wellness, eco-tourism, Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE), as well as aviation if Nepal wants rapid growth of tourist footfall then the government must invest on infrastructure, development, marketing in source countries and increase more international flights landing in ktm and other places as well as making our national carrier more stronger.”
Q: Is Nepal considered a cheap destination for tourists?
A:"Nepal cannot be categorized as a cheap destination due to the high cost of buying vehicles resulting in transportation costs on all imported goods and expenses, together with the lack of shipping facilities and railway transportation. The cost of living in Nepal is relatively higher than in other places, primarily driven by the transportation cost, which impacts the cost of imported goods. Additionally, airfares in Nepal are expensive, increasing transportation costs for tourists," Amatya responded.
Q: How can Nepal overcome the problem of seasonality in its tourism industry?
A:Amatya proposed that Nepal should prioritize promoting festivals, wellness tourism, MICE tourism, and spirituality to offset seasonality. Shedding light on the pressing issue of seasonality that Nepal faces and a strategic focus on festivals, wellness, MICE tourism, and aviation can mitigate this challenge. One of the major issues faced by Nepal is seasonality, which affects the tourism industry. To address this, Nepal should focus more on festivals, wellness, MICE tourism, and aviation.
Q: How can Nepal ensure long-term growth and sustainability in the tourism industry?
A: He suggests that Nepal should prioritize promoting festivals, wellness tourism, MICE tourism, and spirituality to offset seasonality. Shedding light on the pressing issue of seasonality that Nepal faces and a strategic focus on festivals, wellness, MICE tourism, and aviation can mitigate this challenge. One of the major issues faced by Nepal is seasonality, which affects the tourism industry. To address this, Nepal should focus more on festivals, wellness, MICE tourism, and aviation.
While Nepal may be perceived as an expensive destination, there is a strong demand for luxury goods among tourists. Many hotels and businesses specialize in providing luxury experiences to attract and retain international visitors. Amatya stressed the importance of diversifying Nepal's tourism products, such as offering cruises, adventure activities, festivals, wellness experiences, MICE tourism, eco-tourism, and enhancing aviation initiatives. These efforts can break barriers and cater to the evolving preferences of global travelers, he added.
To achieve long-term growth and sustainability in the tourism industry, Amatya proposed that the Nepalese government should implement a long-term tourism policy strongly focused on sustainable tourism. He also stressed that having a strategy in any sector is crucial to adapting and fulfilling demands.
Despite the challenges, Amatya remains hopeful for the future of the Nepalese tourism industry. As he concluded the "Navigating Nepal" segment, he said, "There are always a number of windows of opportunity within Nepal, and we must recognize these moments before the chance passes by." He emphasized the need for a new mindset, to adapt and restart the tourism industry in Nepal, with a focus on sustainable and niche tourism products.
As the global tourism industry is set to hit $15.5 trillion in GDP contributions by 2033, Nepal must seize these opportunities to gain a larger share of the market in the years to come.