KATHMANDU, July 19: We’ve been brought up hearing and reading that this country is filled with natural beauty, from the plains of the Terai to the highest mountain of the world. No matter what part of the country we live in, there is an agreement on the fact that Nepal is beautiful. While we are proud of these breathe taking places, we are still behind on exploring them. It is not only the natural scenery that makes the country glorified but also the beautiful hearts of our people and rich cultural diversity. We are not the only ones claiming these facts.
Tourists who visit the country from different parts of the world share the same feeling. They undergo life changing experiences while getting closer to nature and understanding cultures that are so different from theirs. However, we are still unable to visit various places of our own country.
Nepal Tourism Board has announced the year 2073 BS as ‘Ghumphir Barsha’ or ‘Travel Year’ for promoting domestic tourism. People living in different parts of the country follow different cultures and traditions. Thus, domestic tourism could help people understand each other and bring them closer. It will help the travelers to get to know new cultural practices and also the people living in those places will get to know the outsiders from distant places. People of different geographical regions and cultural backgrounds should come together in present day context, because the socio-political scenario could highly benefit from it.
We proudly claim of having tolerance between religions and ethnicities because there hasn’t been any major incident on the basis of such issues. But we cannot deny the fact that there exists a cold-war among different ethnic groups and geographical regions. These concepts have existed in our society for a long period and have created generalized views in people which can be removed if these people from different region get closer and understand the misconceptions. Travelling to a different region would bring change in the perspectives of people and develop acceptance of various cultures.
Though domestic tourism won’t derive as much economic benefits like international tourism, it could initiate a level of self-reliance in the country. Instead of spending huge amount of their earnings in social gatherings and alcohol, people could save up for travelling and contribute to local tourism. If more people start to travel, the local shops and hotels will have additional earnings. Also, we will get to know what basic facilities lack in such areas and be attentive towards the development work.
The devastating earthquake that happened more than a year ago is still hampering the National economy. Tourists still hesitate to visit the country because the global media has shown a great amount of threat due to the earthquake. Tourism industry is one of the most prosperous economic sectors of the country and its degradation will have impacts on our economy as well as our global reputation. In such situation promoting domestic tourism would give better chances to improve the degrading condition of tourism industry. It can help to convey the message that these places are safe for travelling, and moreover, more travelers would help to better the adversities created by the earthquake in people’s lives.
It seems important to change the perspective towards travelling, though we do have a culture of traveling places but these visits seem limited to visiting religious places with families. Our restricted definition of tourism as only foreigners visiting our country and participating in adventure sports must be broadened by the idea that we ourselves can help prosper the tourism industry of our country. Nepal is undeniably beautiful and Nepali people themselves should explore every aspect of the country.
(Salika is currently doing her Bachelors in Development Studies from National College, Baluwatar.)