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Europe has visually stunning cultural heritage dating back to hundreds of years and North America is a breathtaking natural paradise, full of snow-capped mountains, beautiful autumn forests and sunny beaches. I’d rather spend a week in Bahamas to unwind and visit Mongolia to see the mountains, than to come to a country I’ve hardly ever heard anything of besides it being somewhere close to/in India. I know they’re one of the poorest countries in the world — that automatically makes me want to think if I’ll get a nice hotel or ways to get around or I’ll have water/electricity at all (as if we do now!). I don’t know how where it is, how it is — and if I should at all visit this country.
What’s the value proposition in Nepal? As a non-Nepali tourist, I have no idea why my Nepal trip should be worth it. If I were a tourist, I’d never have a reason to go to Nepal; or whatever this country is — Napal, or Naples or Nipple.
We are still selling outdated children photos on magazine covers begging tourists on our knees to come visit Nepal. Just look at the language that we use on our tourism collaterals — “Please”, “just try”, “have you..?” and words/phrases that reflect our sheer lack of confidence in what we have to offer to our tourists. We have on-your-face photos of our heritage, but nobody tries to illustrate the exhilarating experience for tourists that “Nepal”, as a brand has to offer.
We still depend upon tourists who “drop by” from India or Thailand because to them Nepal is still not an entirely convincing destination.
Look at “Malaysia Truly Asia” and the “Incredible !ndia” campaigns that changed the entire tourism landscape of these countries. What are we going to do do with ours? Or lets say when are we going to? All the government will do is sell shitty syndicated hotel rooms (owned by government official’s saalo) at international fairs, and shitty Powerpoints done in Comic Sans with photos stolen from the Internet at international forums. The NTB website tells me what, but never tells me why. This is not how you brand a country, this is not how you sell stuff.
Nepal Tourism Board has done everything it could (I agree — the govt. has put a lot of effort to make tourism work), but that is not how we go about in this phase when we need tourists the most to uplift the industry has fallen down to pieces. Not only we need to tell tourists that Nepal is safe to travel post earthquake, but also try and establish this promising brand; and that it has a lot to deliver than those $35 guided tours to Durbar Squares and boat-rowing in Pokhara. “Nepal” needs to become an experience, a product that consumers from around the world look up to, believe in and have confidence in.
We already have all the jewels, all we need to do it is package it in a shiny new wrapper and give a king-size display at the storefront. Everything will be awesome again!