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My Vision for Nepal | A top global tourist destination

Capt. Rameshwar Thapa

Capt. Rameshwar Thapa

My Vision for Nepal | A top global tourist destination

Capt. Rameshwar Thapa is an entrepreneur and renowned helicopter pilot | Photos: AMN Archives

A top global tourist destination 

Three ways to realize the vision: 

1) Make visitors feel safe and secure anywhere in the country.
2) Work towards building a stable political climate.
3) Upgrade the quality of our air services.

My Vision for Nepal

Nepal is one of those rare countries that can sustain itself solely on tourism. We have the potential to be an internationally acclaimed tourist destination with our majestic snow-capped mountains, exciting trekking routes, and beautiful heritage sites to draw visitors from around the world.   

So my vision for Nepal is to make this country a top global tourist destination. To realize this dream, we have to create a tourist-friendly environment. Visitors should feel comfortable and safe no matter where they travel inside Nepal. They should return to their home countries full of memorable experiences of Nepal.   

But we haven’t been able to attract enough tourists. As important as it is to attract new tourists, it is equally important to get previous visitors to return. 

Among the many reasons Nepal hasn’t been able to improve tourism is political instability. We can’t expect sustained growth in any sector without a stable political climate. Our political parties and their leaders have never thought about this. Without a vision for this country, how can they provide a proper environment for growth and development? 

If only they had a proper vision, our GDP would start growing at a double-digit rate in no time. All that Nepal needs to prosper is political stability and sound policy. If we could have only these two things, I strongly believe we can host a huge number of high-spending tourists. This country surely doesn’t lack tourism entrepreneurs or service providers to make this possible.

But because of our volatile political climate, we are compromising even on our strengths.

For example, we used to have jungle hotels and resorts inside national parks. Offering close wildlife encounters to the guests, they used to draw a healthy number of high-spending tourists. These businesses were also conserving and promoting vulnerable animals. The incidents of wildlife poaching and hunting had gone down. But these novel and lucrative businesses could not survive as they fell victim to politicization. Quality tourists then stopped visiting Nepal. 

Another area where Nepal needs to improve on to attract quality tourists is aviation. The quality of our air services should be urgently upgraded. As the visitors’ first impression is important, we should also raise the standard of our international airport.

The European Union has blacklisted Nepali airlines from flying into its airspace over safety concerns (as outlined by the International Civil Aviation Organization, ICAO). This ban, which has continued since 2013, has badly affected Nepal’s tourism. Without direct flights, European tourists wanting to visit Nepal have to face many hassles. Similarly, we haven’t been able to properly utilize our wide-body aircraft due to a lack of routes and destinations. 

Unfortunately, our government, political parties and the civil aviation body are not treating this issue with the urgency it deserves.

Since 2009, the ICAO has been saying that the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) can’t act both as an air-service provider and regulator. The ICAO has suggested splitting it up into two entities in compliance with international standards. 

Under the current system, if I were to make a complaint against, say, poor airport service, I would have to do it at the CAAN, which is also responsible for managing and service-facilitation at airports. So how can we expect the aviation body to act independently? This is also the concern of the ICAO. 

I hope the issues concerning air safety and regulation will soon get sorted, as our National Assembly has passed two bills in an effort to get Nepali airlines off the EU blacklist. Now it is up to the House of Representatives to endorse the bills. Let’s keep our chin up and hope our political leaders will do the right thing this time. 

Let’s also hope that the crisis in Nepal Tourism Board is settled for good. Due to personal problems between our tourism minister and the board’s CEO, the board has become weak.

It is vital that the Tourism Ministry and the board work in harmony in order to support Nepal’s tourism industry.  

If we could only attract tourists from neighboring India and China, Nepal’s tourism would get a much-needed boost. We can get millions of religious tourists from India and China, as Nepal is home to some of the holiest sites for both Hindus and Buddhists. 

With a clear vision and collaboration, it won’t take more than five years for Nepal to hit the road of prosperity. After all, wouldn’t everybody like to visit Nepal at least once in their lifetime?   

Capt. Rameshwar Thapa

Quick Questions:

Having already achieved so much in your life, what is your big dream now?

As I have devoted my whole life to my country, my dream is to see Nepal ranked as among the most desired countries in the world.

What did you learn from your career as a pilot?

Never lose hope.

A quote you live by?

‘Work hard and don’t worry about results’.