Kathmandu, Mar. 24: When people think of tourists and tourism, they think of foreigners arriving from distant countries – and for a long time, at least in the case of Nepal, that was what it mostly was. However, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions in international movement, foreign tourism all but stopped. That knocked the wind of Nepal’s tourism-based businesses and led to the displacement of many from this field. That is why the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) has started focusing on promoting domestic tourism and border tourism (attracting tourists from across the border in India). As a part of this effort, NTB is set to organise an East Travel Mart in Dharan, Province 1 from Friday to Sunday.
“In order to develop and expand the scope of the country’s tourism business and establish relations with tourism entrepreneurs of different provinces as well as reach out to the tour operators active in the international market, NTB decided through its policy and programmes for the fiscal year 2021/22 to organise travel marts in all the provinces,” Dr. Dhananjay Regmi, chief executive officer of NTB, said, explaining the rationale behind the mart. “We hope this will promote internal and border-area tourism in the country,” he added.
Bhavesh Kumar Shrestha, coordinator of the East Mart, claimed that the fair would bring visitors to Province 1 and advertise its attractive destinations to the people of the country as well as adjoining India. “Our intention behind this mart is to engage the Indian tour operators as buyers and hold commercial interactions about the packages provided by our tour services, hotels and tourism entrepreneurs,” he stated.
Earlier, NTB had organised the Western Travel Mart in Nepalgunj in coordination with the Nepalgunj Sub-Metropolitan City from March 10 to 12. That mart, which was attended by more than 50 tourism entrepreneurs from India, was aimed at boosting tourism in the city and promoting it as the ‘Gateway to Karnali.’
Similarly, after the Eastern Mart, to be organised in coordination with Dharan Sub-Metropolitan City, NTB will organise the Far-West Travel Mart in Dhangadhi, Sudurpashchim Province this coming April 8 to 10. According to the Board, this mart will be held with support from Dhangadhi Sub-Metropolitan City.
“Here, we will focus on building the ‘Beautiful Far-West’ brand,” informed Hikmat Singh Air, senior director of NTB. The Nepal Association of Tour and Travel Agents (NATTA) as well as several other tourism-related organisations and bodies are also playing a role in organising the provincial marts.