Promoting rural tourism: VITOF Nepal President Ram Sapkota
21st Jul, 2018 | Tourism Mail Crew
Village Tourism Promotion Forum Nepal (VITOF-Nepal) is a nonprofit organization established with the main objective of promoting rural tourism. The main goal of VITOF Nepal is to uplift lifestyle of rural people and promote Nepal in foreign countries. The mission of VITOF Nepal is to make people aware about the conservation of folk culture, identifying rural tourism potentialities and income generating activities. It encourages, raises awareness, and conducts trainings about micro tourism activities. Furthermore, it helps to preserve, revive, and conserve multiethnic cultures, i.e., 1 hundred 24 castes and ethnic groups of Nepal. Similarly, it also makes rural citizens people aware about harvesting and harnessing village tourism activities and encourages locals to preserve, conserve, revive indigenous cultural heritages and explore new sites or destinations. Likewise, it promotes Nepal by reviving the century long culture of home stay, i.e. Atithi Devo Bhawa in SAARC region and in the global context in general.
To know more about the projects of VITOF we interviewed Ram Sapkota Kamal, President of VITOF Nepal. He has been serving in VITOF Nepal since 2016.
Q:What is VITOF doing these days and what are its upcoming projects?
VITOF has recently organized a Rice Planting festival for the promotion of rural tourism and likewise, we are conducting various trainings to the people about the concept of rural tourism. We also search for new destinations for the promotion. Every year we select 3 villages and promote those villages through the help of media. Tourists only visit limited places in the country so we promote the undiscovered tourism sited of Nepal and promote those areas. We promote agro tourism and create connectivity by preserving the culture and tradition of the village. In upcoming days we are planning to conduct home stay trekking trail where they can enjoy both trek and home stay.
Q:What are the challenges of promoting village as tourism destination?
We believe the a village should be developed by conserving and preserving its cultural norms, values, culture and tradition but in past few days some industrialists have invested a huge amount in making big buildings over the village. Likewise, due to the construction works, the temples and trekking routes have been destroyed so these things are the challenges which rise while promoting village as a tourism destination.
Q:VITOF has been conducting various programs. Are they effective?
Looking back to all the programs organized it has played a great role in the development of the place. As we can see now, Chitlang has been developed as one of the most preferred tourist destinations. Likewise, Sirubari and Lwanghale have also turned into a suitable rural tourism destination. We also distribute awards to the excellent village every year to encourage the villagers. Thus, the programs are effective.
Q: You are engaged with this organization since 2 years. From your side, what are the changes that have been made?
These 2 years seems to be a very short time but still during my stay, I have managed the office properly and I have divided the committee in 11 parts including media handling, organization management, international partners and destination search group. Also, I have started the concept of home stay trekking trail and have conducted various trainings about the rural tourism development. And at last I have given continuity to the other projects such as rice planting festival and publication of the rural tourism books and calendars to promote the destinations.
Q: The government has announced its target to 2 million tourists in 2020, is it possible? How is the relationship between VITOF and the government?
As, we are the important body for the promotion of destinations, the plans have not been discussed yet. If the development work continues in this ratio it will be very hard for us to meet the target but if every sector will contribute their part in promoting Nepal, we can easily meet the target. Similarly, we have good relations with the government but we are lacking proper support from the side of government.
Q: What are the upcoming plans of VITOF?
Our first plan is to give continuity to the plans that have been carried out. We are also planning to expand the sectors of tourism and focus on far west and far eastern side of the country. Also our country has moved to federalism and now we are also planning to make our branch in each and every province to make our work more efficient and smooth.