September 11, 2019
By RAJIV JOSHI
Nepal is celebrating the year 2020 as Visit Nepal Year (VNY). The campaign is the third one Nepal is organizing after the Visit Nepal in 1998 and Nepal Tourism Year in 2011.
The forthcoming campaign of VNY 2020 is targeted to bring in at least two million tourists. The target set by the campaign sounds good and has added to the excitement of the Nepali tourism industry. Excitement and enthusiasm are fine but global tourism leaders argue on the worthiness of visit year campaigns in the present digital world.
Visit year campaigns are time-tested and these days not many destinations worldwide appear to be including such campaigns in their list of promotion activities. The trend of organizing such a campaign dates back to 1987 when Thailand celebrated the first visit year. Since then, few countries have taken the initiative with the hope that such campaigns would give boost to the economy as well as popularize the destination far and wide. We could see a number of destinations benefitting from the initiative. For example, Asian countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand presented good outcomes from their campaigns. Malaysia even redefined the way the visit year campaign be celebrated, with four already under its belt and the fifth one in 2020, coinciding with the VNY.
Nepal seems to be trying to seize the opportunity from the marketing tactics of the 90’s when digital media was not in use as it is today. But, there is a need for a more innovative approach to garner the attention of the world in the coming days. Some might argue that organizing visit year campaigns can yield better results but it is the fact that things like these have become more or less outdated.
We can even take instances from previous campaigns, their objectives, targets, and outcomes. Nepal achieved the figure targeted back in 2011 just last year and points like these should be taken into consideration for better outcomes. We have got enough ideas from the previous campaigns in 1998 and 2011.
The visit Nepal year which was earlier supposed to happen back in 2018, was postponed for 2020, so that preparations could be done in larger scales and the campaign can be given a bigger momentum. But, if we go with the versions of officials of the campaign and some media reports, not adequate preparations have been done !! So, the question arises, will the VNY 2020 campaign live up to the expectation?
At present, global tourism is observing new trends and growing arrival figures. In the year 2018 alone, international tourist arrivals reached 1.4 billion worldwide. The figure was previously forecasted to be achieved in 2020 , yet the remarkable growth of international arrivals in recent years has brought it two years ahead. At a time when people around the world are traveling more than ever, the recent times have even shown an increased interest in the unknown and unexplored places around the world. Travelers today are in search of new things and want better experiences. So, organizing visit year campaigns are not only enough to bring in tourists into the country.
The VNY campaign has been given a tagline, Lifetime Experiences’. The tagline itself gives an impression of getting some great experiences and unique attractions are on the offerings. At a time when advances in digital technologies have made travel easier than before, it has also made travelers even more smarter. Travelers today have become more demanding and they want to know or explore what they like to and if there is nothing new to experience or the products that are offered are not exclusive, why should anyone bother or get interested in the visit year campaign alone?
We have been observing some promotions and launch events. Promotions and launching events are important, but apart from these, we should also be concentrating on identifying the activities or packages that appeal the traveler and make the campaign work. For instance, Nepal can offer visa-free travel for everyone during the year, which can also be a point that can get travelers’ consideration.
Not only the government should be concerned, there should be good coordination among various stakeholders to promote vigorously, which, if kept up, will definitely make the campaign work.
There is no doubt, there is a need to put more effort into our reconstruction, transportation, communication, and infrastructural development. We should also look upon widening and enhancing our connectivity. The government should also work upon existing rules and policies, introduce new destinations or products and add more value to the destination. These things have to be identified first for a successful campaign and there should also be a willingness from all sides.
So, let’s not make it just a year-long campaign and work on giving enough reasons for the tourist to visit Nepal during the whole year. We should be well prepared to make the experience of travel in Nepal more secure, comfortable, and memorable.
And, if we want to make the campaign a success, we must be able to answer the question, what’s so special about VNY 2020 or why should one make Nepal their holiday destination during the given year?