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Monday, January 26, 2009

Festivals after festivals: Effective or vain

Celebration is the part of life and showcasing it in the form of festivals is a way of promotion. But here we are not talking about the festivals like Dashain or Indra Jatra but the unending festivals that Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) has been promoting over the years. In the recent years, NTB is more seen busy in endorsing such festivals and promoting local villages for tourism activities. The year round festival of NTB doesn’t seem to stop and every year this trend is only soaring higher and higher. As per the statistics NTB hosted around 40 events and festival celebrations in 2007 alone in different parts of Nepal. Now the question remains, how effective these festivals have been to promote tourism in real sense? Does it really help?

Mani Raj Lamichhane, Manager at the Tourism Product & Development NTB said, “We are the facilitator as the locals, they come up with the proposals and we evaluate their proposals and support them with necessary resources that are available.”

“Currently there is a whim of festival celebration going on where there is a misconception in public that we finance the project but in reality, we don’t. We support and coordinate with all our resources. In-fact, we do not support them with cash rather we support them with kind and before supporting any project; we do look at future prospect and do a full evaluation of the project’s sustainability and prospects,” added he

He asserted, “Celebrating festivals are not just the means to promote a destination perhaps, it’s a spectrum which gives a wide opportunity from exploring to awareness to promoting local industry.”

Highlighting the current status, the Annual operational Plan 2007/08 of NTB shows an expense of around NRs 4.5 Million (063/64) under the category of domestic tourism festival & events where as it shows NRs 61 Million (064/65) for tourism promotion in International front.

Surdarshan Pradhan, a leading festival organizer said, “Festival celebration is an essential part of promoting rural tourism. Today the western world is moving towards eco and sustainable tourism where the concept of home stay is developing rapidly. So adapting that we are more focused towards celebrating festival in rural parts where the arrivals can get the real taste of Nepal.”

“We generally host around 30 festivals in a year in rural parts of Tanahu and Lamjung district where NTB has supported us. Looking at the real prospects and capacity of NTB and its involvement is very limited. It’s a hub organization which annually receives NRs 250 to 300 Million where only 10 % is used in promotion of rural tourism. Reality is around 80% to 90 % of the budget is wasted in the name of foreign promotion where the staff enjoy visiting the foreign countries. Besides, if the right amount of money could be spent here then effective results could be achieved,” added he.

However, looking at the prospect of Nepal, currently there are hundreds of festivals and events celebrated around the country where the monitoring, evaluation and sustainability of the festivals are just limited with in papers.

Dr Rudra Prasad Upadhaya, academician and rural tourism expert said, “The trend of celebrating festivals and events has emerged as a whim where festivals and events are done on daily basis. This needs to be controlled and systematized by the related authorities in a channelized way. In-fact the NTB should develop a proper mechanism to counter such acts where it needs to engage itself in proper research focusing on prominent destinations.”

He suggested, “Understanding the voices, the trend of celebration shows an effort from the people to develop their place and land but on contrary they prioritize their trade where in major cases the destination lacks behind. People just do it in the trend of doing where the sustainability is a question which lies unanswered. To be specific, Nepal needs rural, village and community tourism where we lack effective promotion and development.”

“NTB is a hub organization which is not interested in domestic tourism where most of its efforts are prioritized to international promotion. The institution needs to integrate all the stake holders towards driving the industry for better development and prospects,” added he.

By Shreedeep Rayamajhi



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