Thursday, December 30, 2010

Nepal Tourism Year 2011 : Advisory Update

Nope, this is not a promotion for Nepal Tourism Year, 2011, which btw, will be inaugurated on the 14th of January, 2011... a year where the country prepares to welcome 1 million tourists, from the 0.55 million or so in 2010. A big leap for Nepal. Achievable? Not a lot of people think so. Here's what I think!

It does not matter at all whether we reach a million or not. What matters is that after over a decade of wallowing in frustrations over the depression caused by the Maoist struggle and the subsequent never ending 'political struggle' (fueled by incompetent politicians and their minions' never ending ambition for power), the country will get something to celebrate about, and hopefully will inject some zeal and zest in the tourism industry, already the second biggest foreign exchange earner in the country.

The biggest stumbling blocks will be the infrastructure (hotels, roads), the political confusion (which will fuel general strikes - even though political parties have promised not to hold any in 2011, I personally would not even take their word with a sack of salt), the bad domestic airline safety record and the slow reaction to tourism problems by the government (remember the October issue at Lukla).

The biggest plusses will be the travellers who brave all this to enjoy the beauty that Nepal presents, and the people who service these travellers, which has been Nepal's biggest asset. They really make it happen.

So what advice can I give to people looking to travel to Nepal in 2011?

1. Avoid the main seasons and come just prior to just after the season, if you are planning regular itineraries. This way you will not have to jostle amongst the thousands of tourists making their way into the tourism sites like EBC. ABC, Langtang Valley etc... best times in my calendar? Feb, May, Sep and Nov to December.

2. Check out the Off the Beaten Trails, like Dolpo, Rara, Jumla, Chepang Hills, Humla, Bardia - you will enjoy them more and there will be far greater service and experiences. Also these can be done at other times of the year, besides the main seasons, hence lesser travellers.

3. Pad your trip with a few days, do something extra (a bit uncommon) like cycling in Kathmandu Valley, or Pokhara, or Chitwan (these are new and developing, excellent new experiences)

And some usual advice

4. Ask the right questions to the operators you are negotiating with (find out if they follow responsible practices and are good on safety)

5. Read up before you come, so you are aware of whats happening in the country.

6. Bring along the only thing you need to bring when you travel... a great attitude.

See you in the mountains (and the mid-hills and the plains)!


a. Official Nepal Tourism Board Website -
b. News from Nepal as it happens -
c. Guidelines to travelling responsibly in Nepal by socialtours
d. Some interesting trip ideas by socialtours

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