KATHMANDU, 18 OCTOBER 2014Â Â – With the governmentâ€™s ambitious Vision 2020 campaign to boost annual tourist arrivals to 2 million slowing down, the private sector has joined forces to give it a shot in the arm.
Travel trade associations like Hotel Association Nepal (HAN), Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal, Nepal Association of Tour and Travel Agents, Pacific Asia Travel Association, Nepal Association of Tour Operators and Nepal Mountaineering Association forged a pact on Wednesday to pursue the campaign jointly.
The group has also decided to conduct various national level events. A taskforce has been formed under the chairmanship of HAN General Secretary Binayak Shah to set the campaign in motion.
The government had launched Vision 2020 in 2012 with the view of increasing arrivals to 2 million by 2020. The effort has also set an ambitious target to increase employment in tourism to 1 million. Vision 2020 follows Nepal Tourism Year 2011 that has been described as being a moderately successful campaign for being able to partly restore Nepalâ€™s tourism image damaged by an insurgency that lasted from 1996-2006.
Subsequently, the government announced Visit Lumbini Year 2012, but the campaign failed to attain its goal which critics blamed on lack of adequate preparation. In 1998, the country had conducted a successful tourism campaign named Visit Nepal 1998. Nearly 800,000 tourists visited Nepal last year.
â€œThe Vision 2020 campaign is an important event for Nepalâ€™s tourism, but the government has been conducting the preparations at crawling speed,â€ said Shah. â€œIn this scenario, we have decided that we need to make early preparations from our side,â€ he added.
At a time when the countryâ€™s tourism promotional body the Nepal Tourism Board has not been able to perform its duties efficiently, the government should be more serious about attaining the goal, Shah said. The tourism board has not been able to name a chief executive officer for the last three years.