Dr. BP Badal
Tourism is not limited to a business, an academic course, or a philosophy but it is a comprehensive phenomenon of humanism. More specifically, tourism is fundamentally an essence of humanism. It analyses human wants and behaviours. People need happiness from enjoyment, respect, adventure, travel, of course from good food, shelter, and company. Therefore, tourism is the business, the academic discipline, or the philosophy of travelling to foster absolute humanism.
Rahul Sankrityayan, the father of Indian travelogue, was Marxist, and Buddhist monk, originally was a pundit. Finally, he became a great scholar of travel literature. In his most famous book Volga To Ganga, he emphasises the importance of travel in life. Thus, the life is to travel and learn, but in this pandemic, tourism is suffering globally.
Another most important issue to affect tourism is the global expansion of identity politics. The rise of the USSR was extreme discrimination and the fall of it was identity politics. Racial and cultural discrimination was almost eradicated in the communist era but they lost their culture, religion, and identity – the most influencing factor of sustainable tourism. They raised their hands for their identity the country was divided into 20 more independent states. The second pole of earth and the communist empire, the USSR missed the crown. Identity politics is the worst practice of modernisation, prevailing in the sustainable development era. Sustainable development is against social, ecological, economic, and any kind of discrimination. Sustainable development is against, racial, class, or gender discrimination but identity politics is intensifying communal conflicts and insecurity in third world countries like Nepal. Hospitality increases hospitality. In Dharmapada, Lord Buddha says, “Hates cannot be removed by hate, it is only possible through love and compassion”. Hospitality is love, compassion, and respect of humanism is itself tourism. In this context, third-world countries are missing the main essence of tourism. Tourism entrepreneurs must follow the principle of love and compassion given by Lord Buddha and the philosophy of Atithi Devo Bhava- guest is god in Nepali tourism. It is predictable that the tension of identity politics and disturbances can be managed properly within this pandemic period by the government.
Cultural variability is necessary for tourism and hospitality. People around the world visit other destinations to know the culture, tradition, civilisation, education, lifestyle, and many more. People visit Nepal to assimilate with the climate, culture, flora and fauna, and people of mountains, hills and Terai. The hospitality, gastronomy, art, culture, music, and the dance of (Limbu, Rai, Dhimal, Koche, Meche, Sherpa, Tamang, Maithili, Bhojpuri, Awadhi, Gurung, Magar, Brahman, Chhetri, Khas Aryan, etc.) different identities. In Nepal, there are 10 religions, 123 languages and 125 caste and ethnic groups. With more than 840 floral and faunal species, the country is unique in terms of topographical and climatic variations.
The Veda was composed in Tanahun. It means the world’s third largest religion, Hinduism, was originated from Nepal. Buddha was born here in this nation which is the land of the Himalayas. It is also known as the educational hub of tantrism and different sages and scholars since time immemorial. If anyone misses visiting Nepal, life is not life. It is time for us to commodify the cultural and natural assets into tourism capital after the COVID-19 pandemic. Cultural tourism is the marketing of culture, rituals and identity for sure.
However, in the name of equality and modernity, Nepal’s organic culture and civilisation are fading out or mixing with others. The contemporary mindset of mixing culture into a racial thought seems to be increasing in the country. The Central Bureau of Statics (CBS) had identified only 60 caste/ethnic communities in the 1991 census. However, 100 ethnic/caste groups were further identified in the 2001 census and the list of ethnic/caste groups was 125 in the 2011 census (Population Monograph 2014). It means that quantity is increasing and originality is dipping.
Tourism is a platform of cultural exploration and integration but cultural qualities are reducing which can have a serious negative impact on future tourism. The class struggle and protest among these groups based on identity pluralism and racial politics can directly affect the security psychology of the tourism business. However, tourism is not only a business or economic phenomenon but is the integration of humanism through the promotion of nature and culture. It is the mechanism of cultural development and promotion. It is the doorway to present the national cultural and natural identities to the world. Identity is necessary but identity politics is to be eradicated as soon as possible.
In Nepal, philosophically, we respect guests as gods; so are the parents in a family. As much as we care for a child, that much we have to care for and respect our guests. Only then will the god (guest) be happy and bless us. But in practice, we might have some reservations.
Guests are the source of income, education, socialisation, civilisation, and popularisation of the community. So, guests are not Firingi as in the time of the Rana rule. The highest order of humanism is civilisation and the status of tourism is directly related to the status of local civilisation. Tourists love to visit peaceful places with clean environment. But we are missing peace and cleanliness in our streets and communities as we throw garbage and plastic bottles here and there. We must give up this habit and start carrying our bags to put the litters we make during our outings.
Vaccine for all
The world has now been in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic. Medical scientists and organisations like the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) are working days and nights for its treatment and medication. All the governments are trying to vaccinate their citizens against this contagion. It is the vaccination that alone can help bring the pandemic under control. However, COVID-19 cases have still been reported in many countries. Anyway, people have been suffocated due to various restrictions, including long lockdowns. Humans want to hang around. So, tourism will be in a boom in the future. Therefore, all tourism entrepreneurs must be ready for the entire dimension of humanism, civilisation or tourism. Tourism is only a means of human liberation. The new government must ensure vaccines to everyone as early as possible for reviving tourism.
(Dr. Badal is a tourism specialist. firstname.lastname@example.org)