The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) Deepak Raj Joshi has underscored the need for strengthening cooperation among the concerned tourism boards in this region for mutual benefits since it is considering Bangladesh, China and India as the top most countries for attracting tourists for the 'Visit Nepal 2020'.
"The private tour operators have a very good linkage in this region and around 40 percent of the packages are jointly developed between India, Bangladesh and Nepal. But, within the government agencies our communication is really poor and we need to strengthen more," he said.
The NTB CEO was speaking before a group of journalists of the South Asian Countries recently at a hotel in Kathmandu. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) organized the capacity building media tour on disaster management and promotion of regional tourism.
Joshi informed that Nepal is going to launch an ambitious campaign next year through the 'Visit Nepal 2020' to revive its tourism sector by raising the inflow of tourists in the Himalayan country which was hit hard by strong earthquake in 2015 and political instability for years.
'Visit Nepal 2020' begins with a slogan 'lifetime experience', targeting over two million foreign tourists from the present level of arrival of more than a million tourists.
"We're targeting Bangladesh, China and India as the top most countries (for attracting tourists) in the Visit Nepal 2020," Joshi said adding that they are trying to bring Expo involving Nepal, India and China to bridge the gap of mutual cooperation in February 2020 and such kind of event involving other countries would be held in the future.
The NTB officials said the landlocked country witnessed an average 25 per cent increase in tourists even after the powerful earthquake struck it in 2015 and the new campaign would help them regain the spirit of tourism for meeting the 2020 target.
According to National Tourism Board (NTB), 1,173,072 tourists arrived in the country in 2018, followed by 940,218 in 2017 and 753,002 in 2016. A local media report said 975,557 tourists visited the country by air and road as of October this year.
The NTB data showed that though arrival of Indian tourists increased during the last two years, the number of tourists from Bangladesh decreased by 9.3 per cent last year.
Terming the earthquake as one of the biggest setback in the Nepal's tourism industry, Joshi said following the massive earthquake, the inflow of tourists was 45 percent down in 2015.
"But, we're now back on track with the formulation of the new constitution and having a very stable government," Joshi said expressing the hope that the tourists would be able to enjoy thousands of festivals and visit world heritage and nature sites, taking advantage of political stability.
The NTB CEO said the ADB also supports the mission of Nepal 2020 to make it successful.
The NTB has designed Nepal 2020 with three concepts–culture, adventure and nature lifetime experience, rolling out a series of events such as summiteers' summit, mountain bike in Gandaki province, Buddha Joyonti, Bivah Panchami and international conference on sustainable tourism and sacred river corridor raft race etc throughout the year.
"Nepal is back on speed. Visit Nepal 2020 is sharing our stories of resilience and awaken of spiritual. Beauty of Nepal is unity in diversity and transition to peace," said Suraj Vaidya, National Programme Coordinator of Visit Nepal Year 2020 Campaign while sharing his views at the programme.
He also said the year 2020 will be the stories of nature and animals as the country is set to become the first country to double wild tiger population.
Mentioning that around 50 percent of FDI in Nepal has been in the tourism sector, Suraj said the recent setting up of five star hotels like Marriott showed the confidence of brands coming to Nepal.