Tourism, being one of the fundamental aspects of growth for countries like Nepal, it is without a doubt that COVID-19 has affected tourism immensely and it is now possible to retain only once the situation seems less foggy. We are entering a new phase of fighting the virus along with continuing tourism which seems far from possible. It is a complex and challenging task, and quantifying the impact on the tourism economy is difficult. We highly need to understand the current situation, the nature of this crisis, and its aftermath all around the world, we need to consider “domestic tourism marketing” again, promoting tourism and identifying the market segment.
Nature of crisis and its aftermath
As the UN General Secretary Antonio Gutteres stated, “More than ever before, we need solidarity, hope, and the political will and the cooperation to see this crisis through together.” This is not just a mere statement, rather, a fact. It is to no surprise that the COVID-19 crisis affecting the world today requires a level of response that goes beyond the capacity of any country, the only best possible way we can get through this is by having patience, yet, a quick response from the government.
The government should make an action plan. It should be prepared for any sort of health crisis that arises, take major precautions such as keeping the country under lockdown until the number of cases plummets. A proper investment in Nepal’s health systems is important because it will benefit the people of Nepal in any case. Furthermore, Nepal is a country that is vulnerable to different disasters. So, the country could be faced with two main problems at the same time. Therefore, a proper response should be considered and the government needs to be prepared for the possible reality.
All these could be even worse in the aftermath if the government is not able to address these issues properly which hits domestic tourism, let alone, tourism the hardest. But, once tourism regains its popularity and people will start to travel again, we still need to understand that the tourism sector will be facing a new post-COVID-19 reality where it very likely that there will be an economic downturn and companies will be vying for tourist’s presence to run their own business and the country smoothly. Also, travel practices could seem full of health and travel insurance and bags packed with sanitation materials.
For local audiences, you need to frame your tourism offers more carefully especially those considering domestic tourism.
It is best when travel agencies start having new strategies, such as a certain percentage or amount of discount for those domestic tourists willing to stay at a specific place for a certain amount of time. Since Nepal is a niche destination with a distinctive image of adventure-based tourism, it would be best to attract tourists targeting this (adventure) sector of domestic tourists. This could be helpful because it has been established that adventure tourists are more resilient.
If everything is under control; health, travel agencies, businesses, then it is also likely that Nepal will return to normal even before some of the more advanced destinations. Here, the government should also be taking tests of the tourists as well as the people in the resort or homestays. All in all, domestic tourism can be a savior, but there are limitations as very little is known about the middle-class, their preferences, and the consumption post-pandemic.
Hence, it is a must to consider the possibility of different scenarios even after the pandemic and become more realistic to make a proper plan when it comes to domestic tourism. Business organizations as well as the government should be involved in promotional activities. However, if you want to learn more about what should be done to regain the economic power and take domestic tourism normally, then a course on “Restarting Domestic Tourism – Perseverance Preparedness” is the best option to go for without a doubt.