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The learned author has missed many aspects of Nepalese culture. The so called Virupakshya is described by him as a nobel man. If the author had studied more carefully he would not have missed the third eye indicating that the figure is one of the manifestations of Shiva and not a nobel man.
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Tourism in Nepal
Nepal is a tourist's paradise with an infinite variety of interesting things to see and do. Nepal has many things to offer the visitor the flourishing of art and architecture a demonstrated by the temples of Kathmandu Valley, the natural beauties of the soaring peaks of Himalayas including Mountain Everest and others.
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Nepalese Culture, Society and Tourism
 
Potentials of Tourism in Nepal: A Critical Analysis
 

Nepal is a tourist's paradise with an infinite variety of interesting things to see and do. Nepal has many things to offer the visitor - the flourishing of art and architecture as demonstrated by the temples of Kathmandu Valley, the beauties of nature by the soaring peaks of Mountain Everest and other mountains, not so high perhaps, but even more spectacular appearance such as Machhapuchre and Amadablam. Besides these there is the Mount Gauri Shankar, believed to be the home of Lord Shiva and his consort, Goddess Parvati, the Ganesh Himal, referred as the home of the elephant God Ganesh and the Mount Annapurna named after the Goddess of Plenty. As a matter of fact, draped along the greatest heights of the Himalaya, the Kingdom of Nepal is the land of eternal fascination, a land of ancient history, colourful cultures and peoples, superb scenery and some of the best walking trails on earth.

Situated on the lap of Majestic Himalayas and sandwiched between two vast and most populous countries in the world - India and China - Nepal is a tiny Kingdom of 147,181 sq. km. in area. Roughly the shape of the jagged brick, the country is 885 Km long from the east to west and its width averages out at 193 Km from north to south. Nepal, a landlocked and hilly country where 77% land is covered by rock, snow, barren mountains and sloppy hills etc. while only 23% land is of plain type1 . Nepal's history is closely related to its geographical location separating the fertile plains of India from desert like plateau of Tibet. Culturally and linguistically the country formed a boundary between the Mongoloid people of Tibet and their Tibetan-Burmese language and the people of Indian plains and their Indo-European languages.

Long before recorded history made its mark on the land, legend recount that the Kathmandu Valley with its cultural heritage and the main touristic attraction was a great lake and that Manjushree came from his native land and with a magical sword sliced open the valley wall to drain the water and create the Kathmandu Valley. Manjushree then went back to his native place leaving behind a follower to rule over the land. Geo-morphological research has today proved that in the early post-glacial period Kathmandu valley was a lake. This period corresponds in the Hindu-Buddhist chronology to fifth millennium B.C. - the time of Buddha Visuapi and Lord Krishna.

A great deal is not known about the ancient history of Nepal. Nevertheless, the Kirata dynasty is believed to rule over here long ago. Yalamber, one of its kings, had even said to have fought in the famous battle of Kurukshatra (1000 BC).

If Nepal is not only the land of living cultural museum of the world, non-stop paradise of festivals, the living goddess, yak and yeti, ecologists dream, a Shangri-

 
1. Department of Information, Kingdom of Nepal, pg. no. 1.
 
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La, it is also the land of the birth place of Apostle of Peace - Lord Buddha. In 563 BC Gautam Buddha was born into the Royal Shakya family at Lumbini grove, located approximately 337 kms. from Kathmandu. Around the third century B.C., the great Indian Emperor Ashoka visited Nepal and erected a pillar at Lumbini. The tradition, of oral history credit him for the construction of the four stupas around Patan City. The same source informs that his daughter Charumati was said to have founded Chabahil in Kathmandu.

With the end of Kirati period at around the begining of Christian Era the Lichhavis rose to power and established their regime.

At around 1200 AD with the advent of Malla Dynasty the Golden Age was started which in one hand was the source of the flow great wealth the valley had ever known along-with the wonderful kingdom's architects in temples, pagodas, palaces, fountains, public baths, etc. that can be seen till date and on the other this period began to divide into numerous independent city states with frequently feuding kings and princes.

After the unification of Nepal by Prithivi Narayan Shah in the middle of 18th century the modern history begins. His Majesty the King Birendra Bir Bickram Shah Dev, the present H.M. the king of Nepal, is the tenth ruler of this dynasty.

With a population of about 21.8 million the people of Nepal are as diverse as the terrain in the forms of language, customs and culture. From mountain to mountain, valley to valley, plateau to plains, the ethnic group vary as much as the climate.

Kathmandu Valley is the magical kingdom's capital having seven world renowned heritage sites within a distance of 20 kms. radius. All three Durbar Squares, Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur, are full of art, antiquities and festivals. There are more festivals than the days in our calendar. Corneal W. Kirkpartick remarks Kathmandu Valley have "As many temples as many houses and as many Gods as many people". Majority of tourists and visitors are attracted by the cultural potential of Kathmandu Valley which has made this country as a destination of the cultural tourism resulting as one of the major source of hard currency in Nepal. Cultural resources of potential use for tourism exist - through in less spectacular concentration- throughout the Kingdom which embrace a combination of northern and southern Asian cultures, representing no less than 60 ethnic groups2 , 11 major languages, 70 dialects3 and two major religion. One of the tribes group in western Nepal (Rana Tharus) wear 32 types of ornaments which weight about 8 kgs. and they wear colourful dress.

Although Nepal is officially a Hindu country two religions dominate the life of the people here - Hinduism and Buddhism. Here both the religions have coexisted amicably for centuries and many people performs both religious festivals that spell

 

2. Dr. Ramesh Raj Kunwar, Ethnicity in South Asia, pg. no. 29.
3. Ibid, pg. no. 30.

 
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into the street of the cities and the valley accompanied by great deal of fervour and gaiety. For each and every visitor Nepal not only offers its ancient culture and architecture, splendid mountain views, adventure opportunities through its mountains, jungles and rivers in the area of trekking, jungle-safari and rafting but it offers the easiest and the shortest route to Tibet. Since the opening of Tibet, the route from Kathmandu has become increasingly popular. There is no seasonal hazards in travelling through this beautiful Himalayan Kingdom. This makes Nepal a delightful visit one can come here in all and every season.

The growth in international tourism has made a great strides in Nepal during the last four decades. This scenario has been reflected by the dramatic increase of tourism
in recent years. There were 4017 number of tourists in 1960 whereas it reached5 to a total of 463,684 tourists in 1998, indicating an increase of many folds during 38 years (1960-1998)( Table - 1). Nepal received a total number of 463,684 tourists in 1998 as against the 421857 of 1997 reflecting an increase of 41,827. Tourist arrivals to Nepal for the year were recorded as follows: 51.9% from Asia, 32.6% from western Europe, 9.3% from North America and 3.2% from Australia and Ocenia. The highest number of arrival for 1998 was from India, comprising 30.9% of the total and registering an increase of 7.3% over 1997. This percentage, however, represents Indian tourists arrival in Nepal by air only. The majority of tourist from overseas countries visiting Nepal were from Japan (8.1%), USA (7.7%) and Germany (5.1%) respectively. The arrival of overseas tourists recorded an increase of (11.1%) in 1998 in comparison to 1997. Visitors entering by air constituted 86.0% of the total arrivals where 14% entered Nepal by land6 (Table - 2). A total of 141 expedition teams were granted permission to scale different Himalayan peaks during 1998 out of which only 57 teams were successful in their attempt. The number of mountaineers was 974 while 6942 persons were employed by the expedition teams. Foreign exchange earning from tourism stood at US$ 152.5 million which represented an increase of 31.6% over the earnings of 1997. Contribution of tourism to the GDP of the nation was 3.5% and it also provided 15.2% of the total foreign exchange earnings during fiscal year 1997/98 .

 
5. Arthic Unnati Ko Dasak Ko Udyog, Paryatan Ra Banijya Bikash Karyakram 2028/29 Ra 2029/30, pg. no. 50.
6. Nepal Tourism Statistics 1998 - Annual Statistical Report, pg. no. 13.
Ibid, pg. no. 14
 
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Table - 1: Tourist Arrivals by Year (1960 - 1998)
Table - 2: Tourist Arrival by Major Nationalities (1998)
1960
4,017*
Nationality
Total
1961
5,774*
Australia

11,132**

1962
6,179**

Austria

4,603**

1966
12,567**
 

Canada

7,136**

1970 45,970**
 

Denmark

4,781**

1974 89,838**
 

France

21,992**

1978 156,123**
 

Germany

23,862**

1982 175,448**
 

India

143,229**

1983 179,405**
 

Italy

12,864**

1984 176,634**
 

Japan

37,386**

1985 180,989**
 

Netherlands

14,403**

1986 223,331**
 

Spain

8,832**

1987 248,080**
 

Switzerland

6,644**

1988 265,943**
 

U.S.A.

35,902**

1989 239,945**
 

U.K.

35,499

1990 254,885**
 

Others

95,419

1991 292,995**
 

 

1992 334,353**
 
Total
463,684
1993 293,567**
 
 
1994 326,531**
 
Sources: * Arthik Unnati Kot Dasak Ko Udhyog, Prayatan Ra Banijya Bikas
Karyakram 2028/29 Ra 2029/30
** Nepal Tourism Statistics 1998
1995 363,395**
 
1996 393,613**
 
1997 421,857**
 
1998 463,684**  
 

Tourism sector has been playing a vital role in recent years to enhance the world economy. In addition it creates a vital impact in the social aspects of a nation. Likewise, this industry forms not only a major source of foreign exchange to our country where exportable items are limited but also creates employment opportunities and income. Besides, tourism has been accepted in our country as a catalyst for world peace, international friendship and understanding and this enhances the image of Nepal.

The tourism sector has been contributing substantially in the national income by way of earning convertible foreign exchange. The total revenue from this sector has been reported to be US $ 152.5m for the year 1998. There are 739 tourist hotels with a total of 14,871 hotel rooms or 28,878 hotel beds. In the Kathmandu Valley 338 hotels having 9150 rooms or 17,417 beds were available at the end of the year 1998. In outside the valley 401 hotels with 5721 rooms or 11461 beds were made available for the tourists in the same year. Thus in 1998 an increase of 4.7% in the number of hotels, 4.6% in the number of rooms and 4.7% in the number of beds was recorded7 (Table 3).

 
7. Ibid
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Table - 3: Hotel Accommodation (1998)

Category
No. of Hotels
No. of Rooms
No. of Beds
Kathmandu

   
Five Star 4 881

1,736

Four Star 8 755

1,501

Three Star 7 267

495

Two Star 27 971

1,92

One Star 25 621

1,281

Non Star

201

2,352

5,131

Registered & under Construction 66 3,303

5,352

Sub - Total 338 9,150 17,417
Out Station      
Three Star 1

69

136

Two Star 4

146

296

One Star 13

230

476

Non Star 205


3,254

6,514

Registered & under Construction 178

2,022

4,039

Sub - Total 401 5,721 11,461
Grand - Total 739 14,871 28,878

Source: Nepal Tourism Statistics 1998

From the viewpoint of tourism in Nepal, the opening of Tibet Autonomous Region of China, for international tourists has become an added opportunity. Tibet still remains one of the most interesting, remote and underdeveloped parts of the world. This legendary land on the roof of the world which has been the long cherished dream of many travellers lies at the north border of Nepal connected by 115 Kms long all weather road, i.e. Arniko Highway (Kathmandu - Kodari Rajmarg).

It is a geographical reality that Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, is easily accessible from
Nepal than from the eastern gateways of Mainland China. This reality has created a
tremendous potential to Nepal for expanding its tourism activities and benefit more by attracting Tibet bound tourists.

As tourism continued to remain the most important segment of Nepalese economy in 1997, due the negative growth in other industrial sectors of the country, the government has planned receiving more and more international tourists in the future years. 500,000 tourists were planned to visit the country in the Visit Nepal Year 1998. Similarly, the total tourist arrival targeted to reach 635,000 in the year 2000, 761,000 in 2005 and 952,000 in 2010. To absorb this level of growth in

 
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tourist traffic, certainly considerable investments in hotels and resorts, infrastructures development, expansion of international air services and strengthening of institutional arrangements for tourism development would have to take place simultaneously. In addition the country needs trained manpower to keep pace with the growing international tourism industry.

Adventure- Tourism Sport event has started from April 29, 2000. "Trans Himalaya 2000" a great adventurous sports organised by Raid Gauloses of France will give a picturesque view of the natural, historical, cultural and other key parts of Nepal by reinforcing to open a new chapter in tourism industry to promote adventure tourism in the new millennium. It has taken place in Nepal, the land of dreams. Many sportsmen of the world have gathered in this beautiful country. The adventurous programmes already started from April 29 to May 11, 2000. It is a purely non-mechanical sports which includes Hiking, Mountain Biking, White water sports (white water swimming, canoeing, kayaking, rafting), Cannoning, Trekking on horse-back, trekking on foot and adventurous raids. Around 800 participants of 20 countries are competing the wonderful event. There are 70 teams each, team comprising of five participants including one women. The team has to cross 700-800 km distance within the specific period with the help of a guide map which is provided to each team just 24 hours before the exciting journey. The event started from Tibet, an autonomous region of China to be ended in the religious and historical city of Janakpur, Nepal8 .

Tourism in addition of being the most important segment of Nepalese economy, has played a critical role for international recognition of Kathmandu's cultural heritage, better appreciation of Nepalese art and handicrafts production. It has helped to create an increase in awareness of pollution problems.

In one hand tourism has added many positive aspects in the world economy, in another it has brought with itself many negative aspects also. Nepal is not an exception to this paradox. We are facing with the change in the ethnic demography and culture of Kathmandu, commercialisation in people's attitudes and dealings, reduction of the leaving cultures to cheap, sponsored shows for the pleasure of the tourists, unplanned and uncontrolled expansion of carpet industry with the problems of pollution in Kathmandu, voyeurism making everything in the country look as if it is on sale9 . Besides, crime rate, art theft, street begging have increased in recent years.

Due these negative aspects that the country has been facing, despite the increase in foreign exchange, tourism industry have more critics than admirers. Edmund Hillary, the hero of Everest in 1953, nicknamed it "the world's biggest junkyard." The problem of an increasing pile of non-biodegradable litter and garbage in the Mt. Everest and Khumbu area, introduced by trekkers and mountaineers has already become almost insurmountable.

 
8. Purna Karki - Sunrise Nepal (Environment Jornel), pg. no. 7
9. Prayag Raj Sharma, Cultural and Tourism, pg. no. 30.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

After democracy in 1950, Nepal gradually opened itself to foreigners, contributing to tourism development. Many a tourist and travel writers were influenced and impressed by the Nepalese culture, where even the beggars smiled. Although the door was opened, it was the largest inhabited country yet unexplored by Europeans. The restrictions were specially disconcerting to alpinists who had climbed all the most challenging European peaks and were eager to test their skills on the lofty summit of the Himalayas. Lt. Col. Jimmy Robert, an officer, British India Army, was the first to be interest in mountain tourism. He is the pioneer of numerous first ascents of peaks in Nepal and Pakistan, and had organised logistical support for major Himalayan expeditions. In 1950's a strong French expeditions led by Maurice Herzog reached the Annapurna submit from the north face. Bill Tilman and Charles Houston traced a way to the foot of the Khumbu ice-fall in 1950 and a year later Eric Shipton's team went through the ice-fall to reach the western summit. In 1953 Tenzing Norgay Sherpa and Edmund Hilary were the first people to stand on the submit of the world's highest mountain- Sagarmattha. In 1970 Yuichiro Miura of Japan become the first to descend a large part of Everest on Skis. 1975 Mrs Junko Tabei of Japan became the first woman to reach the summit of Everest10 . Ang Rita Sherpa of Nepal became the first person in the world to scale the Mt. Everest ten times. Likewise Appa Sherpa, 40, has also climbed the Everest eleven times and had break world record. A 17 year old French student succeeded to step the top of Everest along with his father in October 1990. Thus he has been the youngest one to climb the highest peak. In may 1973 Shambhu Tamang became the youngest to climb Everest at 17. Tamang was also the first Nepali to climb Everest from Nepali as well as the Tibetan side. There are about 14 mountain peaks (over 8000 meters) in the world, out of which 8 are in Nepal. Nepal ha about 1310 mountains (6000 meters and above) whereas till now only 142 mountains are allowed for expeditions11 .

According to the Nepal Tourism Statistics 1998 mention that although the largest number of tourists visited Nepal for recreational purposes (56.4%) adventure tourists posted the highest average length of stay in the country. In 1998 the average length of stay was recorded as 10.76 days(Table 4) .

Table - 4: Tourist Arrivals by Purpose of Visit (1990-1998)
Year
Holiday Pleasure
Trekking & Mountaine
ering
Business
Pilgrimage
Official
Conv. Conf.
Others
Total
1990 161,839
(63.5)
39,999
(15.7)
11,728
(4.6)
6,713
(2.6)
26,578
(10.4)
2,838
(1.1)
5,190
(2.0)
254,885
(100)
1991 177,370
(60.5)
42,308
(14.4)
9,103
(3.1)
9,103
(3.1)

37,274
(12.7)
5,441
(1.9)
6,898
(2.4)
292,995
(100)
1992 237,711
(71.1)

35,166
(10.5)
7,219
(2.2)
7,219
(2.2)
20,967
(6.3)
815
(0.2)
710
(0.2)
334,353
(100)
1993 170,279
(58.0)

69,619
(23.7)
10,492
(3.6)
10,429
(3.6)

15,812
(5.4)

5,367
(1.8)
2,566
(0.9)
293,567
(100)
1994 168,155
(51.5)
76,865
(23.5)
5,475
(1.7)
5,475
(1.7)
20,431
(6.3)
5,361
(1.6)
26,722
(8.2)
326,531
(100)
1995 183,207
(50.4)
84,787
(23.3)
5,257
(1.4)
5,257
(1.4)
20,090
(5.5)
5,272
(1.5)
42,953
(11.8)
363,395
(100)
1996 209,377
(53.2)
88,945
(22.6)
4,802
(1.2)
4,802
(1.2)
20,191
(5.1)
6,054
(1.5)
39,165
(10.0)
393,613
(100)
1997 249,360
(59.1)
91,525
(21.4)
4,068
(1.0)
4,068
(1.0)
24,106
(5.7)
5,824
(1.4)
19,565
(4.6)

421,857
(100)
1998 261,347
(56.4)
112,644
(24.3)
16,164
(3.5)
16,164
(3.5)
22,123
(4.8)

5,181
(1.1)
21,271
(4.6)

463,684
(100)
Source: Nepal Tourism Statistics 1998.
 
10. Lisa Choegyal, Nepal, pg. no. 169.
11. Diwas Dhakal: Kathmandu Post (The Sunday Post) August 16, 1998, pg. no. 2.
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To sum up, what has been said above, Nepal is a tourist paradise, a Shangri-La. The country offers varieties of attraction to the tourists. Visitors from all over the world have been visiting Nepal to experience it's cultural heritage, world famous Himalayan peaks, unique architecture preserved in ancient towns and the flora and fauna of this wonderful land. Though it is a fact, but if Nepal has to achieve its tourism industrial goal she must achieve the goal of Salzburg's tourism promotion policy. The goal Salzburg's tourism promotion is not any longer to increase the number of bed nights and arrivals but it is to maintain the high standard of service and at the same time protect the cultural heritage and the environment and make sure that it is passed on intact to future generations.

Of course the situation of Nepal is very different with that of Salzburg but there are also a lot of similarities. Tourism in the Himalayas will only prosper for the long run if it is not exploiting neither the environment, nor the cultural heritage, nor the local people. We have to let as many local people benefit from tourism as possible and spread the word that tourists will only continue to come if the major environmental and cultural challenges are met with proper understanding. Thus the country as a whole needs to have that proper understanding. And of course it is not a small challenge of our generation. Easy to say but very difficult to achieve that goal unless the country posses a very trained and experienced man power who can not only see the national tourism with global prospects but can visualise its future also.

 
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REFERENCES

Anderson, Mary M. (1988). The Festivals of Nepal. India: Rupa & Co.

HMG .(B.S. 2030). Arthik Unnati Ko Dasak Ko Udyog, Paryatan Ra Banijya Bikash Karyakram. 2028/29 Ra 2029/30. Author.

Choegyal, Lisa. (1994). Insight Guides of Nepal. Singapore: APA Publication (HK) Ltd.

Department of Information. (1999). Kingdom of Nepal. Kathmandu: Author.

Karki, Purna. (2000). Raid Gauloises to Open a New Chapter in Tourism Industry to Channelise Adventure Tourism in Nepal. Sunrise Nepal. Kathmandu: Trans Himalaya.

Kunwar, Dr. Ramesh Raj. ( ........). Ethnicity in South Asia. Kathmandu: Laxmi Kunwar.

Nepal Tourism Statistics, Annual Statistical Report. . (1998). Kathmandu: His Majesty's Government of Nepal, Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation.

Sharma, Prayag Raj. (1995). Culture and Tourism. Kathmandu: ICIMOD.

Wheeler Tony/Richard Everist. (1990). Nepal. Sinapore: Singapore National Printers Ltd.

 
 
  Untitled Document
 

Nepalese Culture, Society and Tourism
By: Diwas Dhakal

This book is a collection
of essays devoted to the
Nepalese Culture,Society and Tourism. A special
stress on Natural and
cultural Heritage of Nepal has been very carefully emphasised.
Diwas Dhakal, 2000 ISBN 99933-570-0-6,
First Edition 2000
Published by:
Mukta Dhakl
Read more
Contents:

Tourism in Nepal: A Critical Analysis

Ghandruk: A Socio-cultural Study

The Aqua Culture of Kathmandu

People, Nature and Wild Life in Makalu - Barun

Purnachandi Bhuja Jatra of Patan: A Protection from Lightening

Vajrayan Buddhism and Nepal

The Accumulate Stupa of Ramagrama

The Stupa of Boudhnath: A World Heritage Site

Pagoda Style Architecture and Nepal

Development of Architecture in Nepal

 
 
 
 
 
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