Professor Kaye Chon is the dean of School of Hotel and Tourism Management, Hong Kong. Kaye, who recently visited Nepal to address the 38th Annual General Meeting of Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Nepal Chapter, talked to Sujan Dhungana of Republica on the prospects and challenges of tourism sector in Nepal. Excerpts:
Tourism has been a high priority sector in Nepal, contributing a significant amount to its economy. How do you assess the scope of this sector in Nepal?
Nepal, being a naturally and culturally diverse nation, has a wider scope in tourism compared to other Asian nations. The majestic mountains, attractive greenery and landscape as well as the diversity in culture are invaluable assets for Nepali tourism.
Proper promotion of these can help Nepali tourism prosper. Moreover, the ever increasing number of Nepalis speaking English is also an added benefit.
What measures should Nepal take to strengthen its tourism industry?
The service provided at the local level leaves a huge impact on tourists. Locally-operated hotels, lodges, restaurants, pubs or any other eateries should assure standard services. Similarly, tourism-friendly policies and laws also have a positive impact on the sector. The government should come up with proper planning and strong policies to promote tourism at the national and local levels.
Compared to other nations, Nepal has not been able to grasp the full potential it has in regards to tourism. What do you have to say on it?
Timely and effective promotional activities are a must. I believe Nepal has not been able to promote tourist spots and tourism products at the international level. The weakness has resulted in a slowing in the growth of foreign tourists. Thailand, which is regarded as a tourist hub in Asia, has been giving high priority to promotional activities to lure foreign travelers. The ´Amazing Thailand´ promotional campaign played a crucial role in making the country a popular tourist-destination.
Nepal too needs such promotional activities. Different social networks can be effective mediums through which promotional campaigns can reach a larger mass simultaneously.
Increasing terrorism activities across the world is a primary factor affecting free movement of tourists in recent years. What is your take on this regard?
Though terrorism creates fear among tourists and discourages them from traveling, going to different places is a basic need for humans. Terrorist activities only have a temporary impact on the tourism sector. However, good law-and-order and political stability will support tourism promotion.
Nepal is located between two giant economies. How can Nepal benefit from its strategically significant location?
Asia is growing as a center of excellence regarding the tourism industry. India and China are among the major contributors to world tourism. Nepal, sandwiched between these two Asian giants, has to update itself in modern technology for tourism promotion and attract a certain chuck of travelers from these most populous countries.
source: republica, 07 Feb 2014