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Tourism creates jobs in Nepal
Publication Date : 27-08-2014
Of late, the Nepali tourism sector has had a string of misfortunes.
In December last year, the European Commission issued a ‘blanket ban’ on all Nepali airlines due to their poor safety record and asked European nationals to avoid travelling on them.
What followed was even worse. No sooner than the climbing season began this year, a massive avalanche occurred on Everest, killing 16 Nepali mountaineers on April 18.
It was the deadliest day in the history of our mountains. Protests by various travel companies accusing the Nepal Tourism Board, a public-private partnership under the Ministry of Tourism formed to promote tourism, of financial irregularities followed, leading to the cancellation of the sixth National Tourism Fair scheduled for early May.
Then, the government cancelled Everest Day celebrations, which would have commemorated the 61st year of the first ascent of the world’s highest peak.
All of this makes it amply clear that tourism in Nepal has largely been an ad hoc affair.
Amidst this mess, the Tourism Ministry released a Tourism Employment Survey 2014 last week, which could provide much-needed direction to this sector.
The study, conducted on 193 different institutions (trekking and travel agencies, airlines companies, starred hotels, etc) in 10 districts, found that every six tourists create one job in Nepal.
Most of those employed (68 percent) were between the ages 20 to 40 years while 78 per cent had secondary or a higher level of education.
Ethnicity-wise, 58 pe rcent of the employees were Janajatis, followed by 33 percent Brahmins and Chhetris while Dalits and Tarai-Madhesi groups accounted for 5 and 3 per cent respectively.
These findings are in no way comprehensive, given the limited coverage of the survey. However, they provide a glimpse into the importance of tourism as an employment-generating sector for youths.
Investing in tourism is a very effective way to create jobs.
Tourism generates direct employment, for instance, through guides and hotel staff and indirectly, it generates work in other sectors through consumption of local produce and construction of hotel buildings, roads and airports in tourist destinations, among other things.
Acknowledging this, the government already has a ‘Tourism Vision 2020’ in place, which aims to increase annual tourist arrivals to two million and employ one million people by 2020.
But a lone vision document, without a comprehensive plan to achieve this vaunted surge in tourists and jobs, will not suffice.
To achieve such lofty goals, the government, along with the private sector, must plan together, identity new tourist destinations and promote them extensively.
This should be complimented by huge investments in infrastructure, particularly international airports as well as domestic ones.
Developing a religious circuit targeted at Hindus and Buddhists in South Asia, particularly India, could greatly benefit the nation and also create more jobs for youths in the Tarai.