Our reality amidst propoganda
It is My Honour to write on behalf of Tourist Guide Association of Nepal (TURGAN) for the tourism entrepreneurs and others expert on the related field. The current scenario in regard to tourist influx in the country is not, I must say, promising. This is precisely the time when we observe tourist's arrival to a great extent- historical sights are full with our guests running up and down, restaurants are packed to capacity and hotels are overbook. But, unfortunately, this year, when the busy tourist season is already on but the total picture is very bleak. In accordance to our rough estimate, there may not even been 10% of what we have experienced last year arrival. Therefore, this is really a matter of concern for all the tourism fraternity and to the overall economy of the country.
Although, the tragidious earthquake occurred on 25the April, 2015 and subsequent tremours have left a great setback to the nation's tourism but, this is not the only deterrent to keep the tourist of this country. The media at home and abroad have played a negative role in creating a sense of fear in the mind of incumbent tourist who very much wanted to visit to this country. In actual fact, the so called earthquake has only destroyed a small percentage of our heritage sights, while keeping the bulk of the edifices, temples and palaces in perfect order. Out of 10 world heritage sights declared by UNESCO based in Nepal, only one suffered the wrath of the quake. Mr. Kerk Patrick, a British traveler, who visited Nepal towards the beginning of 19th century had summed up that " kathmadu valley has as many temples as there are houses and as many idols as there are men". So, with the destruction of few temples and palaces, there is no reason for us to be afraid of.
Similarly, in respect of our jungle safari, trekking areas, river rafting and mountaineering part of tourism spectrum have not been affected by the quake, barring few ruptures here and there which is not creating any hurdle for the tourist to roam around. Hence, our point of argument is this that when our tourism related infrastructures are safe and sound, we have seemingly become victimized by wrong and misplaced information served to the tourist. This is an injustice meted out to a country whose huge income is derived through tourism promotion. Due to the absence of visitors, now, travel agencies are running out of business, hotels are squeezed with only few guests to stay in, losing a potential income to feed their staffs. If such aweful situation persist further, it may seem very likely that they will have no other option other than to shut the hotel down.
Circumstance has created even more frightening situation to the transporters. This may include both air and overland transporters. Even in the present context Vehicular movement across the country have been sharply restricted for want of tourist, resulting in the tremendous slow down in the economy.
Therefore, it is high time that all those who are intimately connected with Nepal tourism as well as all the foreign well-wishers must join hand to vigorously promote Nepal in the international world that the country is absolutely safe to visit and for that matter, the counterpart agencies of their respective countries together with all insurance companies must also be entreated that Nepal still continues to be a vibrant tourist hub as specified by Lonely Planet.
In the capacity as president of Tourist Guide Association of Nepal,(TURGAN) I am obliged to write and to bring the truth that we are really hard hit by the recession inflicted to the tourism. Our highly qualified tour guides are totally devoted to their profession, who have been engaged for the past many years serving the need of the tourist and have been instrumental in promoting this industry playing as a role to that of an ambassador, so to write . But with sudden downfall of tourism, our guides have to face complete job loss resulting in their regular income. Therefore, our fear is, in the event, our guide decided to switch over to other profession, the industry has to face a great shortage of qualified and experienced guides to fill up the vacuum.
I again like to write that in order to mitigate such an uncalled for situation is to ensure that the hitherto flow of tourists in Nepal must go undeterred and unobstructed. For that matter your co-operation in convincing the international community that Nepal is, culturally, naturally and from the point of view of adventure, an extremely viable country to visit. In conclusion, Even though some exaggeration of the destruction caused by Earthquake may have happened we should not forget so convince our valuable guest the importance of our culture. Let us find some key personalities who could positively explain Nepal's glory, and invite them to visit here such as, Journalists, tour operators, key personalities in tourism as well as in other field. Let's also try to show them what we have lost and convince them that their visit helps to restore the damages, help the quake victims etc.
Author Baral is President of Tourist Guide Association of Nepal (TURGAN)