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"Tourism high priority for Nepal"  - Minister Dilip Maharjan

Dr Srimal Fernando – SouthAsia Correspondent for Foreign Exchange - The Diplomatic Society, engages Hon Dilip Maharjan State Minister for Tourism and  Civil Aviation to Nepal . Also speaking with Dr. Ganesh Raj Joshi Secretary for Tourism and Civil Aviation, discussion centered around the unique initiative taken by the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation to Nepal to develop the tourism in the country.

          Hon Dilip Maharjan State Minister for Tourism and  Civil Aviation
           Dr. Ganesh Raj Joshi Secretary for Tourism and Civil Aviation

Srimal Fernando (SF): Nepal has received tourist arrivals exceeding 800,000 in 2011. What are your future plans of selling Nepal to the World?

Hon Minister (HM): Tourism is one of the most important foreign income earning sectors of Nepal. The Government of Nepal has placed tourism on high priority in its new policy agenda for national development. After the dawn of peace and normalcy in the country, the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation in collaboration with the National tourist board (NTB) had initiated several programmes to develop the tourist industry in Nepal.
Tourism is given high priority since it is a major contributor to the country’s economy.  Tourism is also helping Nepal socially and culturally and addressing wider issues related to the industry. Increasing tourism-related employment at a wider scale of the sector will lead to equitable distribution of benefits and greater harmony in the society. Accordingly, Nepal’s Tourism Ministry will continue to expedite strategic development plans up to 2020. The tourism sector, which has started sending positive signals of its promising future with all its promotional activities with the aim of promoting Nepal as an attractive safe, exciting and unique destination that will gradually change the tourism sector within the coming years. Through peace, the tourism sector can spread its benefits to build peace and prosperity for the stability of Nepal.

SF: To meet the growing demand of the country’s tourism sector , what are the development plans prepared by the Ministry of Tourism, the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) and the Civil Aviation for the year 2012?

HM: To meet the growing demand of the country’s tourism sector the capacity of Nepal’s Tourism Board (NTB) have to be strengthened. It needs to develop and improve strong collaborations with its partners in the industry. The Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation has achieved a successful year for tourism in 2011. The launching of visit Lumbini 2012 and the Tourism vision 2020 will be future targets for the booming tourist industry of the country. Further the Ministry had identified for development seventeen potential tourism zones from east, west, mid west, far west and from central regions of the country. These zones will chart seventeen wonderful experiences a tourist can enjoy. Further, the continuity of a wide-range of promotional campaigns starting from 2013 will promote Nepal as a favorite tourist destination for the travelers from all corners of the world.

SF: How can South Africa and countries from South Asia such as India and Sri Lanka,  which have fairly developed tourism sectors, support Nepal to overcome the challenges that are faced by Nepal’s tourism sector?

HM: Due to the advancement in technology and development of Science the whole world has become a Global Village.  Promoting tourism in this Global Village is significant for the development of Nepali Tourism.  The long history of diplomatic friendship between South Africa and Nepal has expanded steadily over the years. The flights from Johannesburg to Katmandu through Mumbai has increased the chances for South African travelers to reach Nepal easily. It is time for the two countries to identify potential areas for development in tourism and discuss it in detail. Tourism and Civil Aviation will be the key sectors that need improvements and strengthening. South Africa, with a wealth of experiences in tourism and aviation can share its experiences with Nepal to overcome these challenges.  
India, Sri Lanka and Nepal are historically linked by a common culture and religion. These are important factors that can improve relationships between our societies. Over the last several decades, the civil aviation industry and travel pattern in the region has changed dramatically for good. To meet further demands as passenger air traffic rises between India and Nepal, opening additional air routes from India will be an added advantage.  Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, is a place of pilgrimage for many Sri Lankans. In recent years relations between the two countries are growing steadily as evidenced by increased bilateral trade especially with the increased number of visitors from Sri Lanka.  

SF: What are the specific sectors that offer the greatest opportunities for outsiders to invest in tourism?

HM: Unity and diversity are the specialties of Nepal. Diversity in geography, environment, ethnicity and Culture are the main specialties of our country.
Growth in the tourism sector of the county can be achieved by developing infrastructure connected with tourism, also by spreading the benefits of tourism to the people at the grass root level within the country and by giving publicity to improve its image.  These will open up a host of opportunities for investors to tap the tourism market of Nepal.





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