However, under the current state of things, I wonder how we will portray ourselves to the world. I understand we are a developing country and thus have our weaknesses. BUT, weakness cannot and should not be used as an excuse. I share 3 biggest issues, which should be dealt with, if we want to promote Nepal:
1. State of our international airport-
Kathmandu airport is at best, average. "Average" is good if you don't care about hospitality, but not when you are trying to impress your guests on VNY!!! Although the facilities have improved quite a bit in the last 6 months or so, the general mindset of the personnel at the airport is still- "I am working because I have to", and not "I am working because I want to". The smile is still missing from faces of immigration officials, and the "taxi vultures" outside still swarm around distraught tourists hounding them until them submit to taking the "services" at prices controlled by the drivers. First impressions lasts, they say, and I only wonder how our foreign friends feel about this.
2. 10 or more hours of power cuts each day in the capital and elsewhere-
Kathmandu is the capital, and it should lead by example. Since it is the point of entry for most of our guests, it needs to be tourist friendly.
Granted, major hotels will use generators to power up their facilities, so that guests do not feel the effects of the power cuts. However, not all restaurants, bars, cafes and even basic bed and breakfast may not be able to provide full power all the time. Will this attract our foreign guests or make them bit more cautious for next visit? What about walking in thamel or elsewhere during the night in darkness? Security may be present, but what about potholes and garbage one can step on and get injured? Is this going to be good thing?
3. Strikes and road closures-
Although all political parties have committed to not carry out strikes and road closures (bandhs), one can never be sure about the sincerity of the leaders. The last thing one wants to promote tourism is to have tourists stranded for hours on the road or have to wander aimlessly looking for entertainment. Just yesterday ( Thursday), there was an ethnic rally and meeting blocking a key road in Pulchowk, Lalitpur. That too in the middle of the day leading to major congestion and jam until evening- how is this kind of activity going to help our country portray itself as a tourist friendly country?
In the end-
In spite of this, there is no doubt in my mind that we, the people of Nepal have plenty in impress our foreign friends with. I want to invite my international friends to Nepal and show off our natural beauty and all things good. I know from feedbacks by friends who have visited previously, that in the end they are thrilled to have visited Nepal and almost always have come back again and again. Still, I want us to do more, be more, and show more to make Nepal a truly tourist-friendly destination.
WELCOME TO NEPAL, 2011 !