'Nepal is now being promoted as cultural mélange'

Nepal is now being promoted as cultural mélangeDhruba KC is Honorary Representative of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) to the UK. He has been involved in promoting Nepal through various programmes and took active role during Nepal Tourism Year (2011) and Visit Lumbini Year (2012). As the UK is regarded as one of the main source countries in terms of tourists, NepaliSamajUK.com talked to KC about his involvement, tourism prospects from UK and other various facets vis-a-vis tourism. Here are excerpts:

NepalisamajUK.com: How was the year 2012 for Nepal tourism from the UK's perspective?

KC: Overall, tourist arrivals in Nepal till November this year (2012) is quite encouraging. In this period, a rise of 10.4 per cent compared to that of same period last year has been recorded. From the UK, Nepal has received 33,018 tourists till November this year which is a 2.5% increase. After India, China and USA, UK is the fourth source country of tourists for us.

NepalisamajUK.com: In this regard, what prospects do you see for Nepal in the next year?

KC: So far, Nepal is doing good in terms of receiving tourists. Everybody is hopeful that Nepal will continue to receive more tourists in 2013 as well. However, it all depends on the political situation of our country. If the situation gets better, chances are high that we receive more tourists.

NepalisamajUK.com: Do you have any specific plans for any campaign of promoting Nepal during 2013?

KC: We are working together with Nepal Tourism Board and Nepalese Embassy in London to work out some promotional programs in the UK. We will make them public as soon as we decide some.

NepalisamajUK.com: What are Nepal's main target markets?

KC: Foremost, India and China are two countries that Nepal has focused its marketing effort to attract tourists because both countries are growing economy and their outbound tourists are growing every year. After these two countries come Europe and USA. The UK, Germany, France and Spain are major market for Nepal from Europe. Japan is another market that Nepal is belabouring to cash in.

Nepal is now being promoted as cultural mélangeNepalisamajUK.com: Nepal has traditionally been seen as a destination for adventure travelers. How do you counter this perception?

KC: This perception is created by western travelers because when they came first, they only found adventure, but could not see its other side which is rich in terms of culture and heritage. Nepal is now being promoted as cultural mélange with 125 ethnic groups who speak 123 languages and dialects. We are promoting Kathmandu Valley's rich cultural heritage together with Lumbini-- the birthplace of Lord Buddha and Janakpur-- birthplace of Sita. Nepal is only such a place where people can get such historical and mythological heritage along with towering Himalayan peaks.

NepalisamajUK.com: How important are the UK travel agents to the Nepalese market?

KC: UK travel agents are oldest among the travel agents who have been selling Nepal for the last 50 years. They are important because they understand Nepal's tourism product and destination value very well. Their promotional effort can influence other countries to follow in their footsteps.

NepalisamajUK.com: What are the main attractions in Nepal UK agents should be highlighting?

KC: Adventure is obviously the main attraction. However, there are many things that the UK agents can sell. Apart from trekking and mountaineering, more adventure sports are getting popular in Nepal such as Tenzing Hillary Everest Marathon, paragliding, bungee jumping, zip drive, among others. Other attractions are jungle safari, cultural and heritage tours, spiritual journeys, yoga and meditation as well.

NepalisamajUK.com: How important are training, roadshow and fam trips and what plans are in place?

KC: All these are important for making people aware of Nepal as a tourist destination. Nepal Tourism Board has been doing roadshow in London on and off since last few years. There was a few fam tours from UK to Nepal that we organized earlier. But in the absence of cooperation from airlines, it has become difficult for us to do such Fam tours in recent years.