KATHMANDU, May 29: Tourism entrepreneurs who were promoting Nepal as safe and politically stable country to visit after May 27, are left disappointed and are in dilemma on how to convince potential arrivals following the failure to draft a new constitution.
Bijay Amatya of Yeti Travels said the failure was certain to create chaos and its impact would be obvious among big operators. “The election date collides with high peak tourist season which is likely to divert our potential tourists to other destinations,” he said.
Entrepreneurs have also expressed worry on possible travel advisory from different countries that will leave black spot in the tourism industry which was emerging as strong backbone of country´s economy after more than a decade long of insurgency. The total contribution of Travel and Tourism in Nepal Tourism Year (NTY) 2011 was Rs 119.1 billion or 8.5 percent of GDP and the industry had directly supported 412,500 jobs of the country.
Tejendra Nath Shrestha, president of Restaurant and Bar Association Nepal (REBAN) said although the present situation was better than situation during the Maoist insurgency, the target on tourist vehicles and forced shut down of restaurants by agitators was a negative move for the overall growth of the industry.
The major focus of entrepreneurs now was how to cater the tourist amidst political instability and how to keep the cancellation of booking at minimal.
Amatya said institution like Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) had a crucial role to play in present situation with effective branding that would convince nervous tourist to come to Nepal. He suggested special arrangement and security management for tourism industry in incidents like procession and shut down could have some positive impact despite the volatile situation.
Basanta Raj Mishra of Veture Travels who also operates Chitwan based resort Temple Tiger opined tourists were more nervous about ethnic disturbances than political ones. He said, “ Most of the tourists are familiar with some degree of political instability but ethnic disturbances is something new to them and also may impact their trekking and other activities.” He further said in current situation there was nothing much to do except to wait and watch.
According to a report of World Travel and Tourism Council the travel and tourism investment of the country was estimated to rise by 5.4 percent in 2012 but entrepreneurs are pessimistic about the investment.
Shrestha said, we are already having tough time to sustain our business and in deteriorating situation there is no question of new investment.
Tourist arrivals of Nepal which was showing a robust growth till few months ago has started to shrink with growth rate at 14.3 percent in April 2012 compared to same period a year ago. The growth rate in the same month a year earlier was as high as 34.3 percent.