This 3-days online course on “Restarting Domestic Tourism- Perseverance Preparedness” was designed for those participants who want to develop their skills in the tourism business. This course guided participants to discover winning strategies to promote domestic tourism with a specific focus on domestic tourism marketing. The course was facilitated by Mr. Deepak Raj Joshi, Coordinator-Tourism Recovery Task Force-Nepal and Former CEO of Nepal Tourism Board.
It was an extraordinary and very impactful session that provided an opportunity to reflect upon their content, ideas, and perception about tourism. The session started with a short introduction of all participants.
In the session, Mr. Joshi informed participants about the overview of domestic tourism in the Country. Tourism is a promising growth sector that can provide inclusive and sustainable growth across Nepal. The tourism industry in Nepal is a combination of travel, hospitality, homestay, and airline sectors. Nepal is an ideal tourist destination for mountaineers, rock climbers and adventure-seeking people. Nepal is a beautiful naturally gifted country that has great potential for the tourism industry. Adventurous tourism is hugely popular in Nepal, as there is such a wide range of possible activities. Traveling is a lifetime experience in itself. He highlighted the major wilderness and adventure activities such as bungee jumping, rock and mountain climbing, trekking, hiking, bird watching, paragliding, and many more.
He explained the current situation of tourism and shared certain ideas to overcome the current situation and the nature of the crisis. Tourism is the economy that evolves from the people’s movement from one place to another. He further added that basic tourism infrastructure is the most important key for the development of tourism growth and the utilization of existing destination resources.
He shared COVID-19, the most catastrophic pandemic of the century with its multifaceted cascading effects, has come as a game-changer, making the health and safety of our people and clients the topmost priority. In short, destinations will now compete for the best health and safety protocols in place to build upon the confidence of travelers. COVID 19 is a crisis, and it will take time to revive. However, there is a need to understand the current situation and the nature of the crisis.
As we all know, life is made up of an infinite amount of choices. The only thing that you can do is make better choices in the future by making decisions and taking full responsibility.
However, there is a saying, a silver lining to be found in every crisis. Mr. Joshi shared his perception of preparedness during the crisis; in this context, Nepal should put its hard effort for the survival of the industry and need to be prepared for the quickest recovery when the pandemic comes under control. He listed some of the result-oriented strategy points for being prepared to fight against this mega-crisis positively. Yet staying positive is a core ingredient in the recipe for successful coping in a crisis.
- Firstly, during the time of crisis, keeping yourself engaged and productive through the pandemic provides an opportunity for new leaders and innovators to emerge. Fostering productive engagement helps you to enhance your skills and develop networking in a productive way for perseverance preparedness.
- Secondly, the process of developing knowledge plays a significant role in preparedness during the time of crisis. According to his own experience he mentioned, books are the vast storage of knowledge, and reading books allows learning new things and grasping new ideas. There is a saying-” One idea grows into billions of dollars.”
- Likewise, maintaining a healthy and happy Lifestyle is always correlated with each other. A stress-free mind and body are the essential assets in life; we should be able to handle our mind and body in any situation.
- Meditation has been shown to strengthen immunity, reduce anxiety, and help you to get all aspects of self-care that are important to keep in mind as we all work through this crisis time.
- Developing an audience network effectively for long term goals.
Mr. Joshi talked about the business operational experience during the lockdown experience. Meanwhile, he asked participants to share their ideas and perspectives. The participants also put forward different views and ideas.
Current Policies and Protocols to follow Restarting tourism
Nepal Tourism Board has published “COVID-19 Safety and Hygiene Protocols for the Tourism Industry” to minimize risk for both consumers and providers of tourism services. The tourism industry has developed protocols for the operation of all types of tourism businesses or facilities in the times of the COVID-19 pandemic. The protocols have been prepared for hotels, restaurants, vehicle operators, and tours, trekking, mountaineering, and rafting agencies.
Mr. Joshi introduced the protocol designs to mobilize the resources in the pandemic crisis. He explained some of the points from the protocols. The new protocol is expected to give relief to the reviving tourism industry in the country. The protocol should be abided by all across the nation as these guidelines have come up in lines with WHO guidelines for the operation of hotels, restaurants, tourism offices, transportation, packaged tours, and adventure activities, and is supplemented with environment-friendly recommendations for sustainable and responsible tourism practices. He added that some guidelines and protocols need to be followed strictly by the people from the Hospitality sector.
Meanwhile, he recommended some of the safety measures protocols for environmental protection. Here are listed below:
- Avoid plastic bags and use Eco-Friendly bags
- Segregate waste bins
- Handy useable soap bags
- Emails through a digital platform
Mr. Joshi urged identifying the market segment and the proper market research helps to gather the information regarding the market and access the opportunities to improve. Market research covers market intelligence, opportunity assessment, and marketing strategy. He talked about market segments that always help the industry to quickly recover the business. One is the domestic segment, where a traveler has quick confidence and easy to connect with. Another is the Niche Segment, in which travelers are motivated by a strong desire and passion to travel to the destination/activity that they love the most. He talked about the Business Segment, in which a kind of compulsion is there that drives to travel to widen their business. And another segment is Pilgrimage, in which a strong faith and belief push to travel to the destination.
He talked about pricing and designing the packages/offers. For a good collaboration; we need to highlight offer packages for people. He explained it is very important to promote our country to restart tourism, there can be attractive trip packages, promotions via celebrities, pricing & designing tour packages identifying market segments. We need to produce and implement place marketing campaigns to stand out in a competitive market.
Storytelling content is important in Tourism Marketing. Storytelling, simply, is a means of conveying and interpreting experiences in a way that engages those you’re sharing the story with. The sharing of experiences is most effectively done through individual perspectives. When thinking about the role of storytelling in destination marketing is that your destination does already have great stories. And memorable stories have a plot that enriches the experience of the story.
During and after every crisis effective collaboration and communication are key. We need to identify and understand the current situation most to dive into innovations and collaborative approaches for tourism recovery. To develop domestic tourism, the Use of Influencers and Story Pitching is also crucial. There can be technology-backed initiatives, digital promotion, online delivery, touchpoints, Coordination, and Collaboration; Joint Packages; Joint Promotion, etc. which are some of the ways to promote domestic tourism areas.
The COVID 19 crisis may be unprecedented and we will rebound with new rigor. Lastly, different other ideas on coordination and communication were discussed which guided participants to be engaged during the crisis and keeping yourself active in a productive way.