Visit Nepal 2020 which was officially launched in an inauguration ceremony hosted at Dasarath Rangasala Stadium on the first of January aims to bring two million tourists into Nepal. Along with this, the government has also planned to mark 2020-30 as the tourism decade.
Before Visit Nepal 2020, the government had previously organized such campaigns on two different occasions – when His Majesty’s Government declared the year 1998 as ‘Visit Nepal 98’ and when the government of republic Nepal announced the year 2011 to be celebrated as ‘Nepal Tourism year 2011’. Visit Nepal 98 aimed to welcome more than half a million tourists and Nepal Tourism Year 2011 aimed to welcome one million tourists. Even though the number of tourist arrival surged for both the occasions, in comparison to the previous years, the attempts did not see the target being met.
Can Nepal meet the ambitious two million tourists target?
While previous attempts such as the current Visit Nepal 2020 did not see the targets being met, the highly ambitious target for 2020’s campaign has often been criticized for not having any scientific reasoning or basis. Early indicators also hint that the target is far from being met as January has seen a dip in the arrival of tourists. In the month of January, Nepal has seen a 2% dip in tourist arrivals in comparison to the same period of the last year. This dip has been largely credited to the outbreak of the corona virus. According to the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), the total tourist arrivals in the month stands at 79,686; which is a drop from 81,273 in the corresponding period of the previous year. While many tourists are refraining from unneeded travels, tourism in Nepal is majorly hit due to the outbreak. Arrivals from China are also expected to slow down in time if the outbreak is not controlled. In 2019, Chinese tourists were second, only to India, with a total of 169,543 visiting Nepal. Similarly, for this year, Nepal had high hopes from China to help meet its two million tourists target. The hopes had been further boosted with the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Nepal in October of 2019, as his visits are noted to create an impact on tourism.
According to NTB, the arrival of tourists mostly saw a dip for the majority of the nations. However, statistics show that the number of tourist inflow from China has slightly increased. Nevertheless, the numbers are certain to go down if the outbreak is not controlled. In January 2020, Nepal received the largest number of tourists from India, China, USA, South Korea and Myanmar.
A total of 1,197,191 tourists in 2019 and a total of 1,173,072 tourists in 2018 had visited Nepal, both by air and by land. This means that the target for 2020 is already almost double of the previous years, which would require things to go extra smooth. However, the case hasn’t been so and Nepal seems unprepared for anything out of the ordinary. While the outbreak of the corona virus has hit Nepal’s tourism hard, the global economy isn’t also in its best shape. Previously in 2019, economies all over the globe had numerous problems due to trade wars and other internal or political issues. In such circumstances, there is a chance that people might refrain from unneeded travel.
Amidst all challenges, there is a need to spearhead the campaign and steer it towards success. Visit Nepal 2020 was inaugurated in a large ceremony in front of a massive crowd in Kathmandu, however, promotions abroad haven’t been sufficient. While the effort being put in is commendable, tourists stepping foot into the country only come to know about the campaign once they enter the country. Another big issue, the bottlenecks with regards to the infrastructure, needs some solutions as well. While tourists who visit Nepal, often, compliment Nepali hospitality, they are often left dissatisfied with the physical infrastructure. Nepal’s tourism holds massive potential, but our conversations on it needs to move beyond the usual. There is a need to be prompt in addressing any issue or challenges that come our way. Approaching all of this in a conventional manner might not be effective and might not help us achieve the ambitious two million target. However, unorthodox inventions in the sector might reroute us helping meet the target.
 “Visit Nepal 2020 – How it evolves after Visit Nepal 1998, Nepal Tourism Year 2011.” Travel Frontpage, February 02, 2019. Retrieved from travelfrontpage: http://travelfrontpage.com/visit-nepal-2020-how-it-evolves/
 Bhattarai, Chandra Prasad. “Why Nepal won’t see two million tourists in 2020.” The Kathmandu Post, 29 November, 2019. Retrieved from kathmandupost: https://kathmandupost.com/columns/2019/11/29/two-million-tourists-in-2020
 “Visit Nepal 2020 Tourist Arrivals: 2% Drop in January.” Nepali Sansar, February 13, 2020. Retrieved from nepalisansar: https://www.nepalisansar.com/tourism/visit-nepal-2020-tourist-arrivals-statistics/
 “Nepal Tourist Arrivals 2019: 1.52 million, India Top Source.” Nepali Sansar, July 24, 2019. Retrieved from nepalisansar: https://www.nepalisansar.com/tourism/nepal-tourist-arrivals-2019-jan-reports-25-y-o-y-rise/
 Prasain, Sangam. “After Xi Jinping’s visit, Nepal is expecting a surge in Chinese tourists.” The Kathmandu Post, October 20, 2019. Retrieved from kathmandupost: https://kathmandupost.com/money/2019/10/20/after-xi-jinping-s-visit-nepal-is-expecting-a-surge-in-chinese-tourists
 Nepal Tourism Board. “Nepal Tourism Statistics 2019”
Nepal Tourism Board. “Nepal Tourism Statistics 2018”