A latest news report on The Himalayan Times suggests that Non-Resident Nepali Association (NRNA) hopes to bring 1.6 million foreign tourists to Nepal by 2017-end. It is not new to hear of politicians, directors, friends and maybe ourselves make big claims that rarely come true. From turning Nepal to Switzerland or Singapore to now 1.6 million tourists – that too – by the end of 2017? We must bear in mind that 2017 is actually less than three months away. I somehow don’t quite think NRNA will be able to bring in 1.6 million tourists in 2017. Another valid question is, if in the rare case that Nepal does welcome 1.6 million tourists in 2017, how will NRNA be able to claim that it is because of their promotions and campaigns? What if it’s because of all the promotions and features Nepal has been receiving lately in the international press?

To put things into perspective, the Nepal Tourism Year 2011 was held to bring in over 1 million tourists in the year. Unsurprisingly the goal was not met, however it did lead to 803,092 arrivals in the year 2012 (source). Unfortunately the figure didn’t improve in 2013 as arrivals declined to 798,000 (source) and 790,118 in the year 2014 (source). 2015 proved to be a devastating year for tourism in Nepal with the earthquake and the economic blockade. The year concluded with 554,747 tourist arrivals in the country (source). It is appreciable that NRNA have set out on this mission to bring in more tourists because Nepal deserves that.

“Every individual NRN is aiming to send at least three foreigner friends to visit Nepal. As there are more than five million Nepalis living abroad, this campaign is expected to significantly increase the inflow of foreign tourists in Nepal,” NRNA’s Vice President Bhawan Bhatta. Significantly, it may increase the inflow of foreign tourists but the idea of every NRN sending at least three foreigner to visit Nepal is slightly unrealistic.

We must also divert our minds from the number game to the quality game! It is important for travel businesses in Nepal to continuously improve their service and quality. Increasing a product range alone would not do, it comes down to the customer service, training and the level of hospitality on offer. The next few years will see many more non-Nepali businesses coming into operations in Nepal and it is really important for Nepali businesses to really do well and up their game now so they remain competitive when more well-known brands enter the market.

To more tourists indeed!

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