Sunday, 29 January, 2023

Ways To Resuscitate Tourism


Persijs Muiznieks

Tourism is one of the large-scale industries that dictate special rules for achieving successful outcomes. These rules are manmade, accumulated through long experience in the synthesis of the attractiveness of nature and architecture in the widest range of human imagination.
This is man's own desire to create, shape, and leave something lasting as a historical asset for future generations. This desire, in any form of architecture, if it is in harmony and has common ground with nature's beauty, helps create an attraction and finds an insurmountable interest in man to see this unique rarity.

Loud Slogans
Intrusive behaviour does not always yield the expected results. Do we need loud slogans for tourists to be invited? What that might mean- the Year of Tourism in Nepal?
Analysing this slogan creates more confusion than clarity. Has Nepal changed its place on the world map? Does the so-called "Year of Tourism" bring any benefits? Is there an attraction behind the slogan that could be the reason for the influx of tourism? Nothing like that can be seen, neither in thought nor in practical work.

Let's take a look at some examples on a global scale of how special, well-organised activities serve as a positive example of attracting tourism.
Take the example of Amsterdam of the Netherlands, a country in Europe. Every year in the first week of August, Gay Pride is celebrated for three days. Although the orientation of this festival has many opponents, it is widely known around the world. No special invitation, or a loud slogan, is required to visit it.

The context of these activities is the event itself, which finds interest in a certain audience and opens up opportunities to attend it. Arriving in a chosen city, a visitor is surprised with its uniqueness. Neither in the media nor in the open, will no one dare to mention competing slogans with a tendency to reach a million of tourists.
Nepal, which has repeatedly surprised the world with its Guinness World Records, allows us to think about the inexhaustible potential of resources and the adventurous challenges.

Imagining A Challenging Event
Well, try to imagine a challenging and adventurous event, World Rickshaw Day, Kathmandu. It would be like thunder from a clear sky.
How many institutions, public organisations and individuals would take part in this competition, which would resonate far beyond the national borders ? A centralised, well-organised event would bear the fruit of success without any empty slogans.

The World Rikshaw Competition could last three days and be complemented by street stages with folk ensembles as well as small canteens that introduce guests to traditional Nepalese cuisine. And, of course, arts and crafts shops, where craftsmen could show their skills, thus highlighting traditional values that would create a special atmosphere in the urban streets. In just three days, in the heart of Kathmandu, the narrow streets will be chanted in all the languages of the world.

Rickshaw race will recall the old days when the wheels of a carriage knocked on the rocky streets of the old town, and the always hurried merchants shouted, hey coach, could you take me to ?
This is a time to demonstrate, at least for these days, those old carriages could drive such very intrusive and sometimes shameless motorcycle drivers out of the streets.

This campaign, and anyone else, could serve as an example to generate interest and focus more on a chosen topic and organisational work. Which is also the main prerequisite for progressive work.
How many people in the world know about the composition of Nepal's ethnic / castes? It is not difficult to find an urgent answer to a rhetorical question, namely from a practical point of view. The streets in Thamel can host Nepal National Costume Parade. It seems many Nepalese would be surprised to see their national wealth.

Through A Tourist's Eyes
Let's put aside the annual statistics on tourism turnover in the country, which can be manipulated at any discretion, and let's look at the guest's practical vision. Arriving in a foreign environment, the tourist's field of vision is more comprehensive and perceives it differently than the local one.
You may notice a good change upon arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport. With the introduction of digitization, there has been a significant improvement in the time taken to process documents and visas. The long queues that were noticeable five years ago have now disappeared. However, many tourists are disappointed that no benefits were created this special year, hoping for lower visa costs.

Taxi services are also running more smoothly, except in the late evening hours, when you have to watch out for scammers. The cab driver deftly uses the festive mood to his advantage and cheers up a few hundred rupees more.
Good words can be said about the wide selection of accommodation, suitable for every taste and pocket. Sometimes small, cosy hotel surprises with its hospitality, which is not always the case with the relative coldness of a luxury hotel.
It is quite difficult to find a quiet hotel in the city centre. The hustle and bustle pushes through the walls of the room and does not give peace until the night. The daylong unrest is further aggravated by wandering dogs at night, defending their territories in a loud fighting spirit.

A tourist has arrived in the country following the invitation of the Year of Tourism in Nepal. As an enticing reminder, there are hanging posters in the dust-covered shop windows. But when the eyes fall on a half-hunged slogan with the same text at the front of a house, the temptation suddenly becomes confusing because you come across something indistinguishable in the daily rhythm.
It is offensive to tear when a tourist is overwhelmed with fear, unable to lift his eyes and draw attention to the architectural luxury of the façade, which recalls the city's heyday.

It would be preferable to choose a more comfortable vehicle, the rickshaw, but here too, you will face surprises, not understanding whether it is humour or reality.
Upon boarding, the coach's speech begins- not on where to, but do you smoke? Is a non-smoker denied this service, I ask?

These dealers, sometimes pretending to be guided, graze around the Thamel and are not ashamed to offer their services openly, even to families with children. The dynamics of the city put its behavioural seal.
As part of this rhythm, it also includes shopping, which entices tourists in the current disappointment of the world, and forces them to seek the help of a guide. However, this is not always the right solution: "You should know to tell something more," is the usual answer of a dissatisfied tourist when a guide demands payment for a service.

It is enough to live three days in Kathmandu to see the variety of prices. In the Nepali sense, any traveller entering his house is like a god. Does this mean that the guest is perceived as a dairy cow?
In recent years, such a bad feature can be observed, everything that is redundant must be thrown over the fence. Indicating that, Nepali is no longer interested in what is outside its doorstep. However, this gesture must be seen as disrespectful of the environment.

A Megapolis
Kathmandu has already turned into a real megapolis whose capacity has been exhausted and whose infrastructure can no longer meet the basic demands of the population.
The homogeneity and so-called cubic-shaped architecture have overshadowed the city's unique history. Driving outside the Kathmandu Valley on a clear after-rain day, overlooking the capital from the hill, will surprise you with the boredom of the surroundings. The soil excavated on the mountain slope by bulldozers for new housing leaves a distorted natural landscape and is a testament to the beginning of a major change.

The valley, which has attracted pilgrims with its temples and shrines for hundreds of years, is now embedded in the walls of concrete houses. The transport noise and pollution of the city devour the historical aura of Liccchavi Golden Era (4th century) and the Malla era (13th century), a period of cultural flourishing.
Any architect will agree that the pollution of transport leaves a lot of damage to architecture. Its exhaust gases and vibrations form micro-cracks, which over time begin to crush the monuments. Towns such as Langtang, Taplejung and many others have already turned into concrete cities.

The Nepalese have learned a good lesson after the devastating earthquake and have now begun to build seemingly stable buildings in a uniform style that no longer surprises anyone. So disappears village after village, town after town. Visiting these new villages it seems they have been taken over by reminiscence syndrome. Surprisingly, when crossing the doorstep, the housewife offers a cup of coffee and shows off her western-style interior with a plasma TV in the centre, by adding, - my son now lives in America ... Hm .., is that why I have to go to Nepal, a tourist asks?

It should start with a nostalgic touch, once upon a time, each village had its essence of attraction. Seeing the work and ingenuity of the craftsman, captivated and made no stranger stop for a moment. Each village could be proud of its master craftsman, in such cooperation, creating a kind of micro-infrastructure.
For economic (including military) purposes, the blacksmith was able to make a knife that did not lag far behind the famous Damascus Sword. From a distance, a carpenter's workshop could be distinguished, whose windows and doors were decorated with engravings in the ancient Newar style.

The shoemaker made sure no one walked barefoot. His leather shoes lasted for years.
The hand-woven apron, typical of the mountain tribes, dazzles you with its rich mosaic of colours. The village is like a macroeconomic autonomy that feeds itself. Once in it, you can admire the golden hands of craftsmen, and where else the open hospitality of the mountaineer, in exchange for a few words you are invited to spend the night. And if you meet a shaman, which is not a rarity in every village, then you will learn a lot of secrets and possibly reveal yourself. For a newcomer, it is a real fairy-tale kingdom.

A Tourist's Desire
To ensure a successful tourism business in a given region, three basic rules must be followed.
1. Security: Free movement (travel) must be ensured. Discrimination on the grounds of religious beliefs, nationality, skin colour, and sexual orientation is not acceptable.
2. Service: Service must be provided by prior arrangements to ensure that guests are just satisfied.
3. Prices: The amount requested must be adequate for the service provided.

I want to see and feel Nepal with its original breath, with genuine emotions that create uniqueness in a unique form, filled with all the character traits that Nepal has. Through the daily worries of hard works, to see his smile melting the heart of every stranger. Either it's a man with outstretched hands asking for help, or a store owner, spitting in front of you and after calling inside the store. Look there! The man, in the morning mist, with loud singing, tries to wake up the still sleepers.

A little further on, the air fills the hustle and bustle of the market, where men are vigorously trying to conquer the best market places. Vendors who are angry on the blocked streets. The newspaper boy selected with particularly loud voices, who calls out the headlines of the latest news. The busy streets of the old town, where you can see the stubborn nature of Nepali, - not a step back, only forward. After all the transport, drive in one pile and then look for a way to get out.

It is Kathmandu with its relentless dynamics. This is what a tourist wants to see. Will it ever be like ten years ago, when Thamel in the twirling evening was full of people and it was almost impossible to find a free place in a restaurant? People remember those days with joy. Today, the tourist has a completely different question: Where is Nepal missing?

The world is so interesting with its heterogeneity that it brings about changes in its evolutionary path. It is man's natural, lifelong, relentless tendency to travel and learn out the changes on earth. To travel where he has not yet set his/herfoot, recognising the priority of simplicity in the field of hospitality, thus gaining satisfaction from what he has seen.
The current scourge of the pandemic, which has taken over the whole world, has caused enormous damage to countries whose tourism industry is leading in the world. People are thirsty to travel, so hopefully, the time will come when all the misfortunes will be over and tourism in Nepal will return to a full swing.

(The author is a foreign photojournalist currently stationed in Nepal)