The Himalayan nation of Nepal, home to eight of the 10 tallest mountains in the world, has its sights set on attracting two million visitors through its Visit Nepal 2020 campaign.
Running under the slogan, Lifetime Experiences, the campaign also aims to highlight Nepal’s diverse offerings away from trekking.
Sudhan Subedi, senior officer for public relations and publicity at Nepal Tourism Board, said: “We have one prime product that is pushed again and again. We have so much more than that. We want people to realise Nepal’s potential and show it’s more than mountains.”
He added a budget will be allocated to the campaign, with funding coming from the government and Nepal Tourism Board.
The initiative will see a series of new destinations promoted, aggressive marketing campaigns rolled out and a swathe of incentives introduced to attract new and repeat visitors.
As part of the campaign, tour operators will be offering reduced rates, complimentary add-ons and other incentives to attract more visitors to the country.
The campaign will target China and India, as well as neighbouring countries. In South-east Asia, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand will be the focus, while the main longhaul markets of the US and UK will be a priority.
In 2017, Nepal welcomed nearly one million international visitors, with 2018 predicted to attract up to 1.2 million. Subedi acknowledges that hitting the two million target by 2020 will be a challenge, but remains confident as more industry efforts go underway to draw visitors.
National carrier Nepal Airlines is currently in talks to operate direct flights to Japan and South Korea next year, with hopes high that a non-stop connection to Europe – most likely London – will follow.
Colleen Renner, travel consultant at Playful Spirits Travel US, plans on building golf and wellness itineraries in Nepal for her clients. She said: “People don’t traditionally associate Nepal with golfing or wellness, but it has great offerings… and that is what we are looking for, places people don’t think of.”
While Stratis Voursoukis, group director of sales and marketing at Argo Travel in Greece, said the lack of direct flights from Europe to Nepal was a setback, he sees growing interest in Nepal and said that the destination’s nature and adventure travel make it ideal for unique incentive trips.