This essay was written by Samir Sharma from Nepal as entry for the essay competition. The winning article by Silvija Prancane can be found here.

According to the International Monetary Fund the current crisis in the world’s financial market is the worst in 75 years. Most significantly, it is the 21st century’s first global financial crisis that is putting financial capitalism ideologically, to its first test. The chaos that the global financial meltdown has caused to the western world is no more a distant phenomenon for Nepal. The keen interest of our government, economists, media, politicians, business communities, tourism entrepreneurs, and public at large exhibits the relevance of the subject matter to us along with our western counterparts. At this moment, perhaps the most crucial concern for us would be its effect on Nepal’s tourism industry. Would the Nepalese tourism industry be influenced by the global crisis or will the winds of west passes through?

Tourism will be affected worldwide. This time even more as the financial crisis and economic down turn is expected to be long lasting unlike in the past. One may expect long heave; intercontinental tourism to decline significantly given the financial distress being faced by the global aviation industry. In the context of Nepal, impact on tourism is expected to be indirect or a side effect depending on whether or not it faces a decline to India and Tibet. The ominous relation between Dalai Lama and China augurs ill for Tibet bound transit tourists for Nepal. It should be understood the high revenue yielding tourists are either India or China bound with Nepal as a stopover destination rather than a direct one. The tourism sector has started witnessing a slowdown as the number of tourists went down by 16% in February this year against the same period last year. With the global woe crafting a decrease in the expenditure of these foreign tourists, the tourism sector of Nepal is likely to witness a greater set back.

Even though, the global economic crisis has affected tourism industry; it’s understood that tourism will not stop but will flow in a different way. Most of the travel and tourism involves unrestricted expenses so during economic breakdown people would want to secure themselves thus covering essentials for living. Even then, tourism will not die out, there will be change in the traveling behavior of the people, and therefore the tourism and hospitality businesses have to adopt a different strategy to survive in this situation.

Kotler (1997) argued that, regardless of the initial success of the brand position in the market, any may have to be forced to reposition it later. Similarly, Trout and Rivkin (1995) stated that, today is more the time for repositioning than positioning, which is strongly due to the changing marketing environment that influence any organization including tourism industry. Thus, now is the time for us to think about repositioning our tourism products than introducing new products keeping in the mind that the current crisis world is facing.

The recent events, like cricket match played on Gorak Shep – one of the highest plateaus in the world, and Tenzing – Hillary Everest Marathon are keys to attract sports and adventure enthusiasts from around the world. Moreover, planned Visit Nepal Year 2011 with the slogan “Naturally Nepal, Once is not enough” may help to attract nature lover and also help Nepal’s tourism to bounce back in its track at the times of woes.

In conclusion, though the Nepalese tourism is facing a slow down due to global economic meltdown, it is not doing so badly in comparison to Nepal’s counterpart. Nepal is one of the cheapest destinations and has lot to offer like natural beauty, adventure sports, indigenous culture and many more. Special efforts if made to attract tourists as transit bound to Tibet via Nepal; Nepalese tourism would benefit more. Although the world is facing its first 21st century’s economic break down, people won’t forget to travel but there will be shift in the normal pattern and to overcome these challenges tourism businesses have to think and adopt different strategies.

                 The Himalayan Times (Daily English News Paper)