It is needless to say that tourism is one of the most promising sectors to contribute to Nepal’s national economy. But the contribution of Nepalese tourism industry to the gross domestic product (GDP) has been negligible. However, tourism is one of the major industries to generate foreign currency and jobs. It is the tourism industry that directly or indirectly supports a wide range of auxiliary industries from handicraft, vegetable and livestock farming, poultry and fishery farming to horticulture and agriculture. Thus, this sector could be a vital means to support both urban and rural economies. Even the grassroots level Nepalese could easily reap benefits from tourism.
Nepal has a lot of tourist attractions to offer. Because of her geographic and climatic variations and cultural diversity, the country could be a much sought-after destination among the international travelers with diverse tastes and interests. As a tourist destination, the country could also offer services to the people belonging to various age-groups.
As the country is home to eight of the 14 mountains above 8,000 metres, including Mount Everest, mountaineering has been one of the chief adventure activities here. The country is popular internationally as a trekker’s paradise because of appealing places for trekking and hiking. Whitewater rafting, kayaking, canyoning and mountain biking, bungy jumping and rock climbing are additional adventure products. Cultural activities and heritage sites with unique architectures have also been good tourist attractions. Wildlife tourism in the country is equally popular among visitors. But even in the history of six-decade plus Nepalese tourism industry, this sector has failed to grow as expected. Only a few places have been developed as tourist destinations.
Another constraint of the country’s tourism industry is that there is lack of investment in the development of physical infrastructure and human resources. We have also failed to promote and market the unrivalled tourism products in the international market. The country now needs to go for a consumer-based marketing in order to lure more visitors. Apart from them, Nepal does not have direct air access to the key tourist generating countries. However, many international airlines have been flying to and from Kathmandu after the beginning of the peace process in the country in 2006.
The longstanding political unrest has been a major obstacle to the country’s tourism growth. While the deadline for the promulgation of the new constitution is nearing, the major political parties have yet to reach a new consensus in this regard. If this state of uncertainty does not come to an end immediately, it will hit the tourism industry hard.
Realizing the fact that the tourism industry could play an important role in giving a boost to the national economy, the Government of Nepal has taken an initiative to recognize this lucrative sector as the country’s priority industry. It has initiated the process of collecting suggestions and recommendations from the private sector as well as concerned experts so as to expedite tourism promotion. This initiative is expected to boost this slowly growing industry.