Tourism is the largest industry in Nepal and its largest source of foreign exchange and revenue before the Covid-19 outbreak that claimed lives crashed the economy and affects the growth of tourism. It suffered a setback because millions of tourism workers are jobless due to the pandemic. Even though Nepal possesses eight of the ten highest mountains in the world, Nepal is a hot spot destination for mountaineers, rock climbers, and people seeking adventure.
Bishwombhar Lamsal, a tourism expert, consultant, and founding chairman & counselor, Vraman Holidays Pvt. Ltd shares his view with ADEWALE ADENRELE on “Pandemic and its Impact on Tourism”.
Below are excerpts:
Can you tell us the major attractions in Nepal; how would you educate interested students and potential tourists to visit Nepal?
Nepal is a country that lies between two giant countries India and China. Nepal has been blessed with the youngest and highest mountain on earth also known as the Himalayas. Nepal boasts of having eight the fourteen 8k meters mountains, the highest mountain in the world Mt. Everest 8848 meters is also in Nepal.
Nepal is rich in culture. We have around 125 ethnic tribes living in Nepal and each ethnic tribe has its traditions, customs, and culture. This multi-dimensional heritage combines the varieties of Nepal’s ethnic, tribal, and social groups, and it manifests in music and dance, art and craft, languages and literature, festivals and celebrations, and foods and drinks. With the diversity in altitude ranging from the Terai region to the Himalayan range. The landscape also varies from the lowland agricultural area and deserts to the high-altitude mountain range. Each landscape has its beauty.
Nepal is famous for Trekking; Peak Climbing; Mountain Biking Tours; expedition; Day Tours; Rafting; Wilderness Trekking; Adventure Sports Activities; Helicopter Tours; Honeymoon Tour Packages and Yoga Meditation Treks/Tours among several others. You define it; we tailor-made it. We have been continuously promoting our tourism/hospitality ventures/products and NEPAL as a whole at nearly all of the major international platforms viz: WTM; FITUR; ITB: OAS; CMT Stuttgart; MTS; VIT to name a few. On such platforms, we not only promote our company’s individual products/services but also NEPAL as a whole. We distribute our promotional materials in flash drives; brochures; websites and ads. This way we not only educate; we compel people of varied professions to come to Nepal at least once in their lifetime for life experiences.
What are the challenges you faced while doing travel and tourism business and how did you overcome them?
Tourism is always evolving and it never remains the same! Because the way we were bound to do business during the 90s/2000s and now has drastically changed! Major challenges at that time were guests visiting destinations on their own and facing problems on their way… We have numerous examples of guests missing/lost and death reports simply because they chose; to travel on their own without the support/assistance from the local experts/authorized service providers. Though problems persist, it has been drastically reduced to a significant degree. We become able in educating our guests about the consequences of traveling alone! We solopreneurs in collaboration with our government entity – Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) – are working for the welfare of our industry.
In tourism, we have aspects of tourism like educational tourism, religious tourism, medical tourism, and cultural tourism, which area is Nepal’s selling point of tourism to the world?
Nepal is diverse and rich in every aspect of Tourism/Hospitality. Nobody will return empty hands/minds once they are in this amazing piece of land! We do outstandingly promote NEPAL as a destination for Education Tourism; (concept broadening) Medical Tourism; Cultural Tourism; Photography & Movie-Shoot Tourism; Honeymoon Destination and many more…
As the founder, chairman, and counselor of Vraman Holidays Pvt Ltd. in Nepal, how long precisely do you think global travel will resume to its normal pace?
Tourism/Hospitality is the HARDEST-HIT industry sector among ALL because of the Pandemic! This is no doubt! And, an amazing part of our industry is – it is capable of rejuvenating at the FASTEST pace among ALL, as well. Let me define this; for instance, people in agriculture, under normal circumstances have to wait several months to have their product being harvested, and we cannot do this all year round! Whereas in Tourism/Hospitality, we can serve our guests all year round! The industry impacts all other sectors! Tourists’ flow means increments in activities; many people get employment; there in consumption in provisions; food, local people are deployed at specific areas as per the needs of tourists. All sectors revive just because TOURISM revives!
Thus, under normal circumstances, I presume TOURISM is the fastest-progressing industry among ALL.
Early 2020 before the pandemic outbreak, global tourism celebrated a record year of travel. Now, it’s decimated and facing a recovery that could take some time. Can you tell us how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the travel and tourism industry?
Words will be insufficient to describe the (global) impact – adverse effect – of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Tourism/Hospitality. This is a service industry and services are meant for luxury. When there arose a situation to choose between luxury and survival; anybody can choose between the ONE. For instance, people need products/goods to survive. But services are for thriving. During the Pandemic, our quest was the SURVIVAL! Thank God, we survived! And, we are confident that now we will thrive at the fastest pace!
The pandemic affects millions of people who depend on tourism and were laid off or furloughed. How do you think tourism can bounce back and survive?
Optimism | Faith | Resilient – we tourism stakeholders bear this trait to the highest degree than anyone in another industry sector! There is no doubt that we – the tourism industry – will be the fastest recovering industry sector among ALL. Tourism/Hospitality is the HARDEST-HIT industry sector among ALL because of the Pandemic! This is no doubt! And, an amazing part of our industry is – it is capable of rejuvenating at the FASTEST pace among ALL, as well.
Let me define this; for instance, people in agriculture, under normal circumstances have to wait several months to have their product being harvested, and we cannot do this all year round! Whereas in Tourism/Hospitality, we can serve our guests all year round! The industry impacts all other sectors! Tourists flow means increments in activities; many people get employment; there in consumption in provisions; food .. local people are deployed at specific areas as per the needs of tourists. All sectors revive just because TOURISM revives!
Many destinations anticipate travelers’ behavior will change in the virus’s wake. What measures have you put in place to sensitize and educate potential tourists/travelers to erase the fear of covid-19?
We are all aware at this point that Covid-19 is no JOKE. Standard health protocols are being deployed everywhere, at least in my country – NEPAL. We are sincere; desperately; in a healthier environment – awaiting our international guests to arrive; enjoy; entertain and thrive!
African Development Magazine would like to partner us with media tour promotion and coverage of tourism activities, would you support this development and give us a chance?
For sure; we are together at every step of your action. Please go ahead.
Thanks for sharing with ADM
Thank you too.