Lama Tours Vehicle Service

Infrastructure development is tourism development

After agriculture, tourism is the second biggest contributor to GDP in Nepal. Recognizing the potential of tourism in the country, there are wide arrays of activities ranging from table talks to actual infrastructure development going on in local as well as national levels. Still we seem to be lagging behind in attracting the desired number of tourists. There are different theories behind this: some point to lack of physical amenities, some point to lack of promotion abroad, or it might be that we actually lack enough tourist destinations! But Nepal does have ample of destinations yet to be explored. Developing physical facilities should be given topmost priority while developing a tourist destination. A couple of months ago, I travelled to Muktinath, which requires crossing treacherous motorways high up in the hills. The adventurous route starting from Kathmandu to Beni to Jomsom to Kagbeni to Muktinath offers breathtaking views throughout the journey. The mountain Kingdom that the narrow roads with big cliffs on one side and deep gorges on the other lead us to is as diverse as the people who live there. The rugged terrain with hard soil and boulders rising to form small rocky hills, and the mighty Kali Gandaki flowing like a wild snake across the valley make up a thrilling landscape. However, despite so much to look for, the place desperately lacks physical infrastructures. To point one, there are no good hotels at all! On the other hand, if we compare the situation of Mustang with Manali in Himachal Pradesh, India, the situation is totally different. In Manali, the Indian government has partnered with the private sector to develop the hill station. Roads have been constructed right up to the hill where hotels and lodges ranging in service and charge according to the tourists’ need are available. Facility ranging from electricity supply to cyber cafes to ATMs – Manali has everything. This, when compared to our Mustang, one can easily see that we lag far behind. A solid planning and a huge investment are necessary in developing infrastructures in topographically challenged place like Mustang, and we lack both. Besides the lack of good hotels, the place is also short of proper trekking routes, adept guides and good transportation facilities. Also in Manali, I found that tourists can indulge in a variety of adventurous activities like camping, rock climbing, rafting, skiing, paragliding, etc. I don’t think introducing these activities requires any big infrastructural development, but they can generate a lot of cash. However, infrastructures should only be developed, keeping in mind what a tourist is looking for in that particular place. For example, if we are considering developing Muktinath as a tourist destination, we have to keep in mind that a lot of national as well as international tourists visit there for religious reasons. Hence, we have to put our efforts into maintaining religious atmosphere in the temple area, constructing well facilitated hotels and lodges, and provide extra transportation service during peak season. But since lots of people also visit Mustang for trekking, places like Kagbeni and Jomson can serve as headquarters serving those with adventurous streak. These are just examples of Muktinath and Manali. But the basic rule to infrastructural development can be applied to any tourist destination. Nepal still has places which can be developed into major tourist destinations. Some are already popular while many more await proper planning and execution. The writer is Biotechnology graduate from Kathmandu University, and harbors interest in sports and wildlife.

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