After earthquakes in April destroyed its major cultural sites, Nepal seeks cooperation from Himachal Pradesh to revive its tourism.
Tourism is mainstay of the economy of the neighbouring country. Being a labor-intensive service sector, it is also a big source of employment in both urban and rural areas. Indians, Chinese, Americans and Thais form the bulk of nearly 8 lakh foreigners who visit Nepal each year. Of them, 51% are holiday makers, 13% trekkers, and 9% Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims. The earthquake in Nepal destroyed 741 heritage structures and killed 8,700 people.
The tragedy shattered the tourism industry in Nepal, shifting a part of the traffic of backpackers and holidaymakers to the Indian hill states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. The number of foreign travellers in Himachal Pradesh has gone up. "I wanted to visit Nepal but the disturbing reports of earthquake on the internet made me change my route to Himachal Pradesh; and next I will go to Uttarakhand," said Daniel Thomas, an American tourist in Shimla.
Himachal Pradesh sees a lot of scope for mutual cooperation with Nepal in the tourism sector. "Nepal is looking for investment by us in this sector," said Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Board vice-chairman Vijay Singh Mankotia. "The Centre as well as forming a sort of northern regional hill council for cooperation among states can help a lot in this regard," he added.
The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and Nepal's embassy are holding a seminar on Nepal tourism here. The focus is on bilateral trade, investment, cooperation, and identifying the emerging business opportunities. The sectors of interest are tourism, hydroelectricity, construction, pharmaceuticals, textiles, wood and its products, telecom, transport equipment, food processing, chemicals, and light engineering.
Nepal ambassador Deep Kumar Upadhyay will participate in the deliberations with the state tourism development board.