- Prof Dr. Puskar Bajracharya
International tourists come to Nepal for sightseeing, trekking, mountaineering, relaxation, and social-cultural observations. However, there have always been lapses in supplementing the tourism sector with required amenities and infrastructures that ultimately promote the tourism sector in its full-fledged dimensions.
For instance, we can promote additional places of adventure for the tourists and expose additional areas of ethnicity for social-cultural tours which may range from observing Limbu cultural heritages in eastern Nepal to cultural heritages of people in the far west regions of Karnali.
So far, we have exposed only a few cultural heritage to the tourists like those of Tharus in terai and Newars in Kathmandu. We can also bank on spiritual tourism by integrating our religious tour packages such as combining the religious trekking for Pashupatinath, Mustang, and Jankapur into one and see its efficacy.
Lumbini and Mt. Everest are already famous destinations- one for the Buddhist circuit and others for being the highest peak in the world. So, we cannot offer a new destination for the tourists. At least one old destination followed by a new should be planned to entice potential tourists.
At least three tourism strategies can be taken to bring more tourists to Lumbini. First of all, we should focus on Buddhist countries like Myanmar, Srilanka. Tourists from these Buddhist countries are ready to come to Nepal.
Secondly, the visa system for Chinese tourists should be relaxed. Chinese tourists want a visa to be given at the airport within a few seconds without queuing up for long hours.
Thirdly, direct flight from Lhasa to Lumbini should be started to allow a number of tourists arriving in Lumbini from China and Buddhist countries. We should also be able to integrate our Buddhist circuit trekking with Indian counterparts. We can integrate Lumbini of Nepal with Sarnath, Kushinagar, and Boudhagaya of India because this trekking circuit can only bring expected results.
We cannot be biased in our thinking about Lumbini and its related places in India because Japanese tourists have visited Boudha Gaya by chartering their planes in the past which indicates that there is the high potentiality of selling Lumbini as one of the topmost Buddhist circuits in tandem with Indian Buddhist sacred sites.
As for the position of Nepal government on promoting tourism in Nepal, I think the government’s vision is still not clear and it fumbles on how to develop the infrastructure of tourism and what supplementary packages should be added to the already identified destinations here.
(This article was prepared based on a conversation with Prof Dr. Puskar Bajracharya, Former member of National Planning Commission)
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