Visit Nepal Year-2020: Incredible Opportunity to create History

Deepak Raj Joshi photo
Deepak Raj Joshi

Deepak Raj Joshi
CEO, Nepal Tourism Board

Deepak Raj Joshi, CEO of Nepal Tourism Board has been working in NTB for the past 15 years commencing his career from the Human Resource Department. His specialization on destination management and promotion has been fruitful in promoting tourism in Nepal.

Mr. Joshi got appointed as CEO at the time when tourism sector was in a critical condition amid catastrophic earthquakes and blockades at Indo-Nepal borders. However, his continuous efforts and strategy for sustaining the tourism sector have phenomenal contributions to the proclamation of Visit Nepal-2020. Mr. Joshi has seen abundant opportunities in tourism sector and envisions that this sector plays an instrumental role in transforming Nepalese economy from insolvency to prosperity. Excerpts:

Now, Nepal Tourism Board, along with all governmental bodies, is celebrating the Visit Nepal-2020 campaign. Could you please tell us about your preparation in this regard?

We have been working on the Four Strategies for the successful upshots of this campaign. The first and foremost challenge is the infrastructural development. So, we have been lobbying the concerned bodies for improving the situation of infrastructure. Second, we are proposing some incentive and package offers from the private sectors, especially hotels, travel agencies, home stay providers and so on for various discount offers for the 2020 campaign. Similarly, the Government sector is also providing incentive offers. Third, front is related to Public awareness. We are creating awareness on people through some social platforms and media regarding the Visit Nepal Year 2020. Last year, we provided training to as many as a thousand people as the support for preparing human resources for the program. We are providing training to 20,000 human resources for quality service delivery. The last and most significant aspect is the promotion of this program in international forum. For this, we have selected some areas for marketing, especially at tourist entrance points throughout the world and have done pre-launching and promotional events, BZB and Consumer focus. These activities are still continuing.

Could you please tell us about the preparation of the government as the campaign starts from the 1st of January?

We are planning to launch this campaign in a grand way and intending to make it a gala event on the 1st of January, 2020 at the Dasharath Stadium. It will be inaugurated and declared by the Hon’ble President and addressed by the Hon’ble Prime Minister followed by various cultural performances and related activities. Similarly, on 1st January, it will be observed as a grand ceremony at the headquarters of all seven provinces of the nation. To spread the message worldwide and to have a greater mileage, we have scheduled this program to be launched by all the ambassadors in Nepal at the same time. Similarly, NRNs and Nepalese Diasporas are launching this program form their places.

If gauge our history, this type of campaign was observed as Visit Nepal 1998 and Tourism Year-2011, and now it’s Visit Nepal-2020. We are celebrating such an occasion after a decade of the latter one. What are the differences to be traced this year?

It’s different in some aspects. The Visit Nepal-1998 was to some extent observed to sensitize the importance of tourism and was celebrated among the people only. In 2011, Nepal was back to normal after a decade long Maoists’ insurgency. So, in order to convey the message to the world that Nepal is always eager to welcome its guests despite predicaments, we celebrated such events. So far we realized that tourism cannot be developed in isolation; it must be supported by other sectors too. So, with a slogan “Togetherness for Tourism”, Nepal Tourism Year 2011 was important one. Now, the Visit Nepal-2020 is important from two aspects. The first is to raise awareness among people that the only thing that helps Nepal enhance its economic growth is tourism. The second aspect is related to promotion of our historical, cultural and natural resources/ heritages.  We have a six-decade long history of tourism, and the world knows Nepal as a mountainous country and an adventurous destination. But our strengths are multifarious i.e. heritage, culture, life style, wildlife, etc. We are equally rich in these aspects. So, we are advocating the real image of Nepal among foreigners. We are promoting these activities as ‘life-time experiences’ in Nepal.

Are the preparation and advertisements enough? Does it not look like an 11th hour preparation?

Regarding the promotion, our preparation has not left any stone unturned. We have taken different methods of promotion and advertising this time. In 1998, rallies, radio jingles, hording boards used to be effective. But now we have chosen the focused segments and are actively promoting it in digital platforms. Next, we have done promotional activities more in the tourist source countries than in Nepal. There is no problem regarding the promotion but we are facing problems in connectivity and infrastructure.

We have been selling natural beauty till now. Of late, the government has declared 101 more tourism points, but it is heard that the promotional activities have not been effective. How do you exonerate of this backlash?

In fact, these 101 destinations have been identified as touristic destinations. And some budget has been allocated from last year. Now, the government and private sector both invest on those destinations and promote them as package for tourists. Hopefully, these destinations will be developed in some years.

Why haven’t these tourism destinations been incorporated in the education system?

Of course, we have realized that tourism is the only sector to boost the economy of Nepal, but we have not been able to adequately penetrate this issue to pupils. Tourism is an overgrowing industry and service business. So, other sectors may need fewer human resources or more supported by the machine as technological advancement goes on; however, tourism sector always needs trained and hospitable human resources. So, we need a huge number of tourism trained human resources. For this, we need to have coordination with education sector.

We are working on the number of tourists. Bringing two million tourists may not be a big deal. What are the provisions for inviting quality tourists?

The tourists visiting Nepal are less paying ones but because of the problem of connectivity, they pay their big sum of money in airlines. When they enter Nepal, we need to aware and train our people too. Our people do not compete on better service and innovation but our industries go on throat cutting war. So, we have made two strategies: one is to promote tourism in the international market and another is to train the people of tourism industry.

What are the plans to extend the length of stay of the tourists?

The increasing pattern of the world is cash the rich, heed the poor. In such a context, extending the length of their stay is very challenging. Nonetheless, average stay length of a tourist in Nepal is 12.2 days which is pretty good at the world scenario. However, to increase the number of days of tourists in Nepal, we need to work on figuring out new destinations and activities. We are working on it.

Could you please tell us about your remarkable work that has helped in escalating the renown of Nepal Tourism Board since you started your office as CEO?

Four years is not considered to be a sufficient period to make remarkable reforms in tourism industry. I was appointed as CEO at the time when the tourism entrepreneurs’ esteem was slackened and emasculated. The devastating earthquake and consequent Indian blockades had caused negative impacts on tourism movement in Nepal when I started my office. On the other hand, this office was internally disturbed as well. At that time, my challenge was to reinstate the tourism industry as soon as possible. For that, I made strategies for each year in the period of four years. The co-work and cooperation with private sector was taken as the motto during these years. As a result, we have been ranked as the fastest growing country in Asia Pacific Region. We have maintained 25% growth rate each year amid hindrances although the average growth rate of tourism sector is 5% worldwide.

You have been advocating the campaign of Visit Nepal-2020. How are you planning to take this campaign to greater heights?

We have taken some strategies for it. The pondering thing is that our tourism industry is season-based. October/November and April/May are the two seasons we get many tourists, but their number abates in other months. Now we have made a strategy to sell the packages in other seasons to selected areas. Next, we are spearheading a campaign on the Buddhist segment and hopefully it will be easier after the Gautam Buddha International Airport comes into operation. Thirdly, we are using maximum number of digital platforms and showcasing the presence of Nepal.

There is a provision of giving subsidies/ incentives to the citizens in a particular company. For example, the Rajasthan Government of India provides incentives/subsidies to the senior citizens on their visit to the Pashupatinath Temple. In this regard, has the board made any such a package?

We don’t sell the packages rather we motivate private sectors to provide good facilities to tourists, i.e. HAN has offered 30% subsidies in hotels, 10% in trekking and 20% in home stays. Similarly, some incentives packages will be announced from the government side also. We, as the main promotional body, promote these facilities and incentives to the tourists.

What message would you like to share with all prospective tourists?

Nepal is the most beautiful touristic destination, which is also one of the highly diverse and culturally rich countries in the world. Similarly, Nepal is the safest country of this region. So, I would like to request all tourists they visit Nepal in order to get engaged in phenomenal recreational activities and to acquire rare life-time experiences.


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