KATHMANDU, Sept. 27: World Tourism Day is being marked on September 27 every year and this year the day was celebrated with the slogan ´Tourism and Energy for Sustainable Development´.
The message of this year by the World Tourism Organisation (WTO) under the United Nations is to highlight the interrelations between tourism and energy.
At a time when energy crisis is widespread worldwide and it has been making negative environmental impact, it has been believed that tourism can play a leadership and inspirer role for integration of alternative and renewable energies.
WTO Secretary General Taleb D. Rifai while giving a message on the occasion, urged everyone in the tourism sector to make the sector as the main medium for receiving clean energy for the future to fulfill the target set by the UN of ´sustainable energy for all by 2030´.
Secretary General Taleb has expressed the view that eco-tourism sector can provide economic opportunities and employment for tens of thousands of people from the tourism sector with the attaining of sustainable energy.
It has been estimated that some one billion people will visit foreign countries in 2012 worldwide. The tourism industry has been developing 6.7 percent worldwide and as it has been speedily developing in Asia and neighboring countries, it has been necessary in Nepal for collective efforts for all sectors including government and tourism entrepreneurs for the numerical and quality increment of tourists.
On the occasion of the World Tourism Day, some 48 organisations related with tourism in Nepal have been expressing solidarity to tourism day by organizing various programmes including seminars, street festivals, food festivals, morning processions, tourism honor and honoring people making best contributions in the tourism sector.
Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) statistics mentions that some 377, 043 tourists came to Nepal from air routes in eight months of 2012.
This is 16 percent increase as compared to last year.
Although last year the target was for inviting one million tourists with the campaigns for ´Nepal Tourism Year´, only 750,000 tourists visited Nepal.
The tourism sector which has contributed 3.2 percent in country´s GDP has occupied 33 percent of the total revenue of the country. Nepal gets some 380 million US dollars each year from tourism sector, and it has been giving direct and indirect employment to some 750,000 people.
At a time when Nepal has been bearing the brunt of energy crisis, the message of the World Tourism Day it is necessary to reach the message of the Day to the rural level.
Tourism entrepreneurs have been complaining of negative impact in tourism industry from the ongoing load shedding.
Prime Minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai has directed the concerned bodies to limit the load shedding in the coming winter season to ten hours. For this, there should be concrete policies and action plans of the government and tourism entrepreneurs should also emphasize on use of solar and renewable energy for making people aware on saving and generation of energy.
Although world´s highest peak Mt. Everest, other attractive peaks, Lord Buddha´s birth place Lumbini, Janakpurdham, Muktinath and other destinations have identified Nepal in the world in tourism point of view, the country has not been able to get the return from these tourism heritages due to the political instability, lack of enough facilities of air services and negative publicity in the world tourism market time and again.
Although the government has decided to celebrate 2012 as the Visit Lumbini Year, it has been realized that the campaign has been in the shadows. Nepal should not lose the opportunity to attract more and more Buddhist tourists by making extensive publicity in the international arena of the importance of Lumbini.
There is no difference of opinion that tourism development will open a new avenue of the country´s economic revolution. As Nepal´s tourism business was started from mountaineering, the businessmen of the sector demand that there should be emphasis on development of physical infrastructure for developing mountaineering, trekking and adventure tourism and for tourism promotion.
Statistics show that some 40 percent tourists come to this sector.
Chairman of NMA, Jimba Jangbu Sherpa demands that the government should give the responsibility of the 23 various peaks of the country opened for climbing but not yet promoted, to manage and promote to Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA).
He also opined that government should make proper honor and arrangement of employment as many record holder mountaineers have been leaving the country, as they have highlighted the Nepal´s glory as high as the Mt. Everest.
Tourism entrepreneurs have been complaining that the political parties made written commitment not to organize Bandas, strikes and chakkajams making negative impact in tourism sector in the country last year, but violated it and resorted to strikes.
Nepal´s sustainable tourism development is possible only if we could made Nepal´s image positive in the international arena and could promote awareness in the masses to promote it commercially by not taking tourism as just hosting of guests.
For this, country´s tourism development will take a leap if we could prioritize the protection of the energy sources of rural areas and promotion of ecological tourism.