Marketing and promotion of tourism in Pokhara
Tourism, in the context of the present world has become one of the leading sectors for the socio-economic transformation in many countries. As a lucrative industry, tourism is growing rapidly in many developing countries including Nepal. In this context, Nepal, which is known as naturally gifted Himalayan kingdom, has unlimited potentiality for the development of tourism as it has miraculous assimilation between unique natural and enriched cultural assets. Consequently, tourism has become one of the main sources of earning foreign exchange for the nation and also earning livelihood to ordinary citizens as employment generation. Comparatively, Nepal has become a hotspot destination for adventurous activities like mountaineering and trekking not only to be westerners, but also to the Asian tourists. The Hindu and Buddhist religious heritages and the favorable weather conditions throughout the year have generated the spontaneous flow towards the touristic attractions. In the tourism global market, Nepal is popularly known as a country of Mount Everest (the highest mountain in the world) and also the birth place of Lord Buddha (the apostle of peace, love and symbol of non-violence). Besides Everest and Lumbini (the birth place of Buddha), Nepal has become the preserver of the most sacred and ancient shrines and monuments which are known as the holiest and reverent destinations for the spiritually and culturally aware people of the world. In analyzing the increment of the number of tourists during the few decades of the past and their contentment, mentioned in the feedback report, it will not be exaggeration to say that Nepal has become the very synonym of tourism.
Pokhara, one of the most beautiful cities of Nepal, is established as a unique tourist destination of the world because of its aesthetic potentiality generated basically from natural and topographical perspectives. The graph below reflects the growing number of tourists visiting Nepal and their arrival in Pokhara spontaneously.
An analysis of tourists’ arrivals in Nepal reveals that Pokhara has received 28.46% of tourists visiting Nepal in the last ten years from 2001 to 2010. However, the number of total tourists’ arrival of Nepal are found fluctuated between 21.55 percent in 2001 to 38.28 percent in 2010 (MoTCA 2012). In this regard, the two elements, marketing and promotion, remain a vital component for targeting more tourists’ market segments an also the development of tourism in Pokhara. In this context, this chapter attempts to discuss the trends and issues of tourism marketing in Pokhara. It reviews various efforts made in the past about marketing Pokhara and finally comes out with various strategic plans to strengthen the marketing and promotion of Pokhara in future. The information for this chapter is collected through the reviews of secondary, publications and interviews with key stakeholders of tourism in Pokhara, to whom this researcher has chosen through his professional knowledge and experience while working in Pokhara Tourism Council.
2. Marketing concept in Tourism
Tourism is the sum total of activities arisen from the travel and stay of people from out of their usual environment (Bhatia 2004). However, a tourist cannot decide to travel places until and unless he or she knows and remains updated about the tourist destinations. In this regard, here comes the vital role of marketing and promotion. Marketing is also advertising which constitutes one of the 6As as six major tools like attractions, accessibility, amenities, accommodations, activities and advertisement. These factors are prerequisites for the development of a tourist destination.
Among these factors, advertisement is one of the very effective tools of tourism marketing and promotion. For instance, even if a destination has all of the six factors except advertisement, it remains really challenging to promote tourism and attract tourists’ visitations. Tourism is a complex industry because of the amalgam of various sub-sectors which are not only separate but also complete, and sometimes even independent on their own. Such examples can be taken with the enterprises like lodging and transports (Shrestha 2000). It is complex because of the combination of the multifaceted elements like sustainable tourism products, responsible tourism activities by guests and hosts, and responsible marketing (Upadhayaya and Khatiwada 2012). Its complexity furthermore lies in the fact that tourism promotion in its various forms has to be directed at large number of people in various lands of different socio-economic structures, having different needs, tastes, attitudes, expectations and behavioral patterns. It is only the efficient marketing strategy, which not only allows the potential clients for their easy access on general travel related decisions, but also helps to understand marketers of tourist destinations to understand people’s tastes and preferences for travel. Thus, marketing is conceptually vital and important in tourism industry (Godahewa 2011).
Marketing of tourist products has certain peculiar characteristics like intangibility of tourist products, inseparability of guests and hosts including production and consumption of tourists’ services, instability of the demands of tourist products, dominance of the intermediaries on selling products, etc (Paudyal 2012).
In fact, market research, product formulation and development, market segmentation of target markets, distribution network and product promotions are the main marketing functions in tourism. Those functions are materialized amidst the seven core variables of marketing mix up such as product, price, promotion, place, people, physical evidence and process (Bhatia 2004).
Globalization and the increased competition in tourism markets after the 1980s have changed the progressive and competitive landscape of tourism, driving enterprises, communities, nations and government to rethink their tourism strategies, policy, planning, management, and also allow them to restructure, operate and promote destination successfully in a boundary-less world. Globalization has required a continuous improvement in marketing efforts to the needs and wants of the demand factors, international and domestic tourists and local people (Sharma 2006).
3. Pokhara as a unique selling destination
In Chinese there is a proverb, “budaochangchengfeihaohan” (if one has not reached the Great Wall, he can’t be a good man) Similarly “You have not seen Nepal if you have not been to Pokhara,” in the sense that the beauty of Pokhara is the crux in the tourism of Nepal. That is why the Pokhara valley is recognized as the hanging garden of the earth. The tourists themselves have admired the beauty of Pokhara as “one of the paradises on the earth” (Shakya 1995, p.1). This popular statement about Pokhara reveals that it has become one of the most popular tourist destinations of Nepal. It is not only the abundance of natural and cultural heritages, but also the mild weather conditions (neither too hot nor too cold) throughout the year which have made Pokhara a favorable tourist destination for the tourists from all over the world. People’s hospitality is the additional attribute for the touristic attractions in Pokhara (NTB 2011).
From Pokhara, one can easily see the top 3 mountains (Dhaulagiri, Annapurna 1st and Manaslu), which are more than 8000m high peaks often visible from Pokhara in a very close distance. They are not only inseparable from Pokhara, rather they identify this city as the paradise on earth. Likewise, Tilicho, the lake situated on the high altitude in the world, kali Ghandaki, the deepest George in the world also, lie in the periphery of Pokhara. Moreover there are several lakes, caves, flora and fauna, birds, wild animals, very fascinating landscapes and the traditional cultures in and around Pokhara. It has not only the natural attractions, but also some other man-made tourist attractions. Some of these are International Mountain Museum, World Peace Pagoda, Gorkha Museum, Buddhist monasteries and stupas, and Hindu temples. Apart from these attractions, Pokhara is the gateway of Muktinath and DamodarKunda pilgrimage tour. Every year thousands of Hindu pilgrims, especially from India visit this area. Trekking Paragliding, Mountaineering, rafting, Ultra-light flight, jeep liner, Hiking, Cycling, Boating, Sight Seeing etc. are some major activities for tourists. Trekking on Annapurna circuit and paragliding from Sarangkot hill is very popular in the world. Mt. Fishtail is said to be one of the only fishtail-shaped twin peaks in the universe, which lies only 28 km north from Pokhara. The attractive reflection of this mountain on the Fewa Lake is the topographical uniqueness of Pokhara. To observe this special natural phenomenon, every year thousands of tourists visit here and those who have already come once, yet plan to revisit. Nearly 40 percent of total tourists, who have already travelled to Pokhara, are repeated visitors (personal communication through interviews with tourism entrepreneurs of Pokhara).
4. Tourist markets of Pokhara
Pokhara has the unique characteristics of becoming all-the-year-round-destination. The terminologies like ‘tourist season’ and ‘off season’ in fact are not really applicable for Pokhara due to the quite favorable weather and pleasing environment throughout the year. In this context, the very cosmic power has blessed Pokhara in the sense of comfortable climatic elements like rain, snow, temperature, etc. Consequently, Pokhara has become the destination for multiple seasons.
Pokhara’s tourism is largely known for a tourist destination for soft and hard adventures. It is the gateway to the world renowned Annapurna trekking area. Especially, the trekking season begins from the month of September and it goes up to March. Of course, the tourists who visit from April to July have sufficient activities to the countryside and sightseeing around the city and suburb areas. However, tourists are found enjoying in trekking throughout the year. Many tourists are usually involved in different activities like research on nature, culture, ethnic and sports associating them under the tourism sector.
The following graph shows the exact record of the international tourists’ arrival to Pokhara from different countries in wide range.
The types of tourists visiting Pokhara vary according to the seasons. The tourists segment visiting Pokhara can be divided into two major segments; Value tourists and volume tourists.
4.1 The value markets
The value markets consist of those tourists who hail from long haul tourist have the tendency of spending more and also have longer length of staying. They mainly indulge themselves into hard adventurous activities like long trekking ,hiking, rock climbing,etc.
4.2 The volume markets
The visitors from the neighboring countries like India and china hold the major segments of these arrivals. The majority of tourism industry actors in Pokhara depend upon such segment. If tourist markets consists of tourists coming in large numbers. Mass tourism is considered very important for the tourism of Nepal. This segment of tourists is important in the sense that their flow doesn’t limit to certain period of time but is continued all the year round. Thus,this segment gives an end to the concept of ”Low or off season” in the country. The boom in the economy and the increase in per capita income of the Indians Chinese have led the increase in their arrivals to Nepal. The easy access from these nations to Nepal with competitive airfares is another reason for their rise (NTB 2010).
Where the Chinese love soft to medium adventure holidaying, Indians are mostly attracted into pleasure, relaxing and shopping. Pokhara caters to all these requirements with limitless opportunities and options. Air and surface are two major modes of tourists’ arrivals in Pokhara for all kinds of tourists including India and Chinese. Table 5.1 provides such trends of last five years.
Table 1 Tourists arrivals in Pokhara by different mode of transport
|Mode of Transport||2006||2007||2008||2009||2010|
Source: PTO (2010)
4.3 Specified seasons in marketing Pokhara
There are following trends of tourists’ flock to Pokhara based on various seasons in the year.
September-April: This is the main trekking season for all tourists due to appropriate climate, clear visibility of the mountains and no rains.
End of January- Mid of February: This is the main season for Chinese tourists as they have 15 days national holiday for their spring festival which is widely known as Chinese New Year.
May-August: The summer vacation period for Indian tourists who flock in both by air and road transfers. Pokhara is a popular hideaway destination for Indians at this time to beat and avoid the extreme heat and summer in their country.
5. How Pokhara is being marketed ?
The history of tourism in Pokhara began with the trekking by British Gorkha officers during 1950s. Pokhara and its surrounding areas became popular among the mountaineers and trekkers after the successful climbing of Annapurna 1st on 3rd of June 1950 by Maurice Herzog and this team of mountaineers. Since this successful ascend, Mr. Herzog wrote a book entitled “Annapurna” which did not become popular, but it reached to the record breaking sales with nearly 11 million copies by the year 20002. Thus, Pokhara got its global name and fame in the world due to its topographical and natural connection with Mt. Annapurna. Initially, Pokhara was automatically marketed without any systematic way. It was marketed not really by domestic tourists but mainly by international tourists through their verbal words. Moreover hippies during 1960s and 70s were crucial to promote Pokhara and Annapurna region through their verbal words (Shakya 2008). Today, Pokhara is marketed by various ways. The major highlights are described in succeeding paragraphs.
5.1 Role of promotional guide books
There are important roles played by promotional guide books to promote Pokhara from 1980s and thereafter.
a. Pokhara in Lonely Planet
Lonely Planet is one of the popular guide books. It is published as a book and it has a website too. Several independent travelers use this guide book and decide to travel at various destinations mentioned in it. So the book is also an important destination promotional tool. In one of these books, Pokhara is described as follows;
Imagine a perfect triangular mountain, capped by snow and buffeted by the icy winds of the Himalaya. Imagine a millpond clam lake, perfectly reflecting the snowy peaks. Now imagine a village on the lakeshore, thronged by travelers and reverberating to the sound of ‘ommanipadme hum’ from a hundred shops selling prayer flags, carpets, masks, singing blows and CDs of Buddhist mantras. That’s Pokhara.
Nepal’s second city, at least in tourist terms, Pokhara is the end point for the famous Annapurna Circuit trek and the starting point for a dozen more treks through the mountains of the Annapruna Range, including the perennially Jomson Trek and the equally dramatic (but less busy) trek to the Annapurna Sanctuary. It’s unashamedly touristy, in the Thamelmould, but the setting is spectacular – the perfect pyramid of Mt Machhapuchhare looms high above Pokhara, reflected in the placid waters of Phewa Tal.
For many travelers, Pokhara represents a last chance to stock up on creature comforts before hitting the mountain trails, it’s a place to enjoy a steak dinner and cold beer after weeks of daalbhaat in the hills. Even if you aren’t dedicated trekkers, there’s plenty here to keep you busy. Pokhara has numerous and there are some fascinating caves, waterfalls and Tibetan village in the surrounding hills” (Lonely planet 2013).
There are following more descriptions from the perspective of marketing Pokhara.
Pokhara: Peaceful Pokhara has a prime position beside a deep green lake, nestling among forested hills with a picture, postcard backdrop of gleaming Himalayan peaks.
But Pokhara has two personalities. Behind lakeside Pokhara, the one most tourist see, is a sprawling trade centre bustling with all the trapping of modern commerce but with pockets of old Newari architecture. Meanwhile, back at lakeside Pokhara the scene is chilled out version of Thamel where traffic fumes have been swapped for fresh mountain air and the racing motorbikes for paddle boats” (Lonely planet Nepal 2012, p.191).
b. Pokhara in Rough Guide
This is another guide book for travelers. It has also described Pokhara as follows;
The Himalaya make the greatest rise from sub-tropical valley floor to icy summit of any mountain range on earth and the contrast is stunningly apparent at Pokhara. Basking beside verdant lakeshore, on clear mornings it boats a nearly unobstructed views of the 8000m plus Annapurna and Manaslu ranges, looming almost touchily 25 KM to the north” (McConnachie et al.2012, p.204).
5.2 Role of internet marketing and blog sites
Internet marketing and blog sites are other means to promote Pokhara. There are a number of blog sites created by tourists who have already travelled Pokhara. They share their experiences and reflections on such blog sites which are interesting to know Pokhara for other readers. Trip advisor, Lonely Planet, Yatra.com, Makemytrip.com are some of the examples which have brought revolution in the online business of tourism all over the world. These days the travellers are internet-friendly and they make it a point to refer these sites before planning any trips. Thus, it is a very important need of the hour to publicize tourism products through these channels. Pokhara has been well-marked by individual companies in these sites.
Pokhara is now being marketed by various concerned agencies, organizations and stakeholders. They have played a vital role for the promotion of these regions. Some of their efforts regarding the marketing and promotion are given below.
5.3 Role of Nepal Tourism Board
Nepal Tourism Board, the National Tourism Organization of Nepal, holds the sole responsibility of marketing campaigns of Nepal internationally with the brand name “Naturally Nepal-Once is not enough. “In this sense, Nepal still follows the conventional strategy of marketing in which the whole destination is generally included in a single package. Pokhara is included as a major tourist destination of Nepal in this package. Thus, the concept of individual destination marketing has been rarely applied in Nepal’s tourism marketing (personal communication with ShardhhaShrestha, Station In charge, NTB, Pokhara). There are following regular marketing and promotional activities of NTB at the destination level in international tourist markets where Pokhara generally gets some space in combination with other tourist destinations of Nepal.
- Participations in the major tourism fairs around the World such as World Tourism Mart (WTM), ITB Berlin, Vakentiebeurs-Netherlands, MITT Russia, BIT-Italy, Fitur-Spain, ATM Dubai, CITM/COTOM-China, JATA-Japan, KOFTA-Korea, TTAA-Thailand, MATKA-Finaland, TTF/SATTE/OTM-India etc. Apart from participation in the major fairs around the world, NTB jointly with the private sector and tourism associations organizes Sales Missions and Road shows abroad. These programs usually consist of Press brefings and Business sessions.
- Organization of media and tour operators’ familiarization trips (FAM) trips Campaigning through advertisements, advertorials, print and electronic publicity e-marketing through website and e-newsletter Market specific promotional collaterals through producing travelers’ information in different languages Promotion of Pokhara as the ultimate adventure destination in context of the development of air sports (e.g. ultra-light aircraft, paragliding, jeep flyer, sky diving, etc.
- Branding Nepal into 3 sub-brands namely lifetime journeys, ultimate adventure and weekend holidays. First two brands are target to European and American markets whereas the third brand is for neighboring markets like China and India.
5.4 Visit Pokhara Year 2007 as a joint initiative
Visit Pokhara Year (VPY) 2007 was the first promotional campaign in the regional level outside Kathmandu. It was organized by NTB in partnership with various tourism-related organisations like PTC and several travel trade associations functioning in Pokhara. A total of five million rupees was allocated for this campaign and the same amount was contributed by the travel trade as the matching fund. The main objectives of this campaign were as follow:
- With focus to Pokhara, promote Lumbini, Palpa, Gorkha, Chitwan, Syanja, Tanahun, Annapurna area and surroundings as important tourist destinations with the advent of New Year and new political development of the nation in the post-conflict scenario.
- Help in energizing and involving all players and stakeholders for their active participation in reestablishing the tourism destination image of Pokhara and the surrounding.
- Help in conserving and promoting major tourism destinations like Phewa Lake, Begnas Lake, Buddhist circuit, etc.
- Identify the areas in improving human resources in enhancing the service to the tourists.
- Highlight and promote unique and emerging products of Pokhara such as paragliding, Para trekking and ultra-light flights.
- Explore more tourist products or areas and create their profiles.
- This campaign was the most important promotional campaign for Pokhara. With campaign, Pokhara was able to receive 165,177 tourists in 2007 which was 74 percent more than the total tourists’ arrivals in 2006. In this occasion, various marketing and promotional materials were published which included items like Damglors, stickers, broachers, posters, audio visual, CD, DVD etc. In this special year, Pokhara was also focused on its international travel fairs and road shows.
5.5 Pokhara in all major promotional campaigns
Pokhara had been promoted in all major promotional campaigns like Visit Nepal Year 1998, Destination Nepal Campaign 2002-2004, International Year of Mountains 2002, Mt. Everest Golden Jubilee Celebration 2003, Dhaulagiri Golden Jubilee Celebration 2010, Nepal Tourism Year 2011, Visit Lumbini Year 2012 and ongoing promotional focuses of Tourism Visit 2020. There were joint roles of various organizations like Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation, NTB and other travel trade related private associations and entrepreneurs.
5.6 Role of various tourism organizations
The various tourism-related associations working in Pokhara play important in promoting the Pokhara region both domestically and internationally. The roles of such organizations are highlighted below.
- Pokhara Tourism Council
As an umbrella tourism organization, Pokhara Tourism Council (PTC) prominently works to guide and mutually lead several member tourism associations in achieving together the common goal of tourism marketing and promotion of Pokhara region. Some major contributions of PTC are follows.
- Coordination of Pokhara trade industry and its leadership to participants from various national and international trade fairs, seminars and conferences like National Tourism Fair, South Asia Travel and Tourism Exchange (SATTE), and PATA Adventure Travel and Responsible Tourism Conference and Mart in past.
- Publication of promotional magazine “Tourism Mirror” which provides detailed information on all the existing tourism destination and products of Pokhara.
- Publication of the promotional booklet “Paradise Pokhara” to offer the insights of the tourist attractions and publicizes Pokhara.
- Play a leading role in organizing World Tourism Day celebration on 27 September each year. The core activities include special welcome to first arriving three guests at Pokhara Airport and Tourist bus-park. Such guests are also offered with complimentary hotels, hiking and trekking.
- Promotion of the theme “Pokhara for All Seasons” through organizing the annual events AsareRopainMahotsav (rice planting festival) to interlink and strengthen the reciprocal relationships between agriculture and tourism. This festival is widely organized, participated, enjoyed and advertised by both domestic and international tourists. Formulation of manual on tourism ethical operation codes of conduct and corporate social responsibility guidelines in association with the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) North-South and Department of Development Studies, Kathmandu University at the destination level in 2013 in Pokhara (Upadhayaya and Khatiwada 2012). The applications of these guidelines are supposed to enhance the image of Pokhara as a responsible destination in the world.
- Apart from PTC individual associations also work independently towards the development and promotion of tourism of Pokhara.
- Paschimanchal Hotel Association Pokhara
The major national and international marketing campaigns of Paschimanchal Hotel Association Pokhara (PHAP) are as follows;
- “JaunHaiPokhara” :JaunHaiPokhara is the campaign launched by PHAP to promote Pokhara among the local Nepali people and thus boost domestic tourism. PHAP has created various promotional materials like CDs, brochures, posters, and leaflets, introduced various packages on discounted rates on hotels for Nepalese and conducted road shows to promote Pokhara in various parts of Nepal under this campaign. There are positive results of such campaigns with the increase in the domestic tourist arrivals to Pokhara.
- “ChaliyePokhara”: ChaliyePokhara is a modified campaign of the popular JaunHaiPokhara campaign. This is specially designed to promote Pokhara in the Indian market. The major promotion of this campaign was done in 2012 when PHAP jointly with Nepal Tourism Board organized a ‘Border Town Roadshow’ in border cities of India like Gorkhapur, Kanpur and luchknow. Presentaitions of the tourism products of Pokhara are the major highlights of this program with special launching of customized packages for Indians.
- “Pokhara Pure and Perfect”: This is another campaign of PHAP to promote Pokhara internationally, especially in China, other Asian countries and the Western European countries. Many promotional materials like attractive posters, DVDs, brochures, t-shirts, caps, etc. have been produced under this theme and distributed widely. This campaign has been launched successfully in many countries like China, Thailand during PHAP’s independent events. This campaign’s successes can be credited today as ‘Pure and Perfect’ has become a brand to be associated with Pokhara.
- c. Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal, Western Regional Association, Pokhara
TAAN has undertaken the major responsibility of developing and promoting adventure tourism in the country. TAAN, Pokhara, was involved for long in organizing the international paragliding championships from its first to tenth series which it later handed over to Nepal Air sports Association. TAANPokhara annually promotes home-stay and village tourism promotional campaigns on the World Tourism Day through organizing FAM trips and winter camps. This association has published several brochures, maps and signage of some trekking routes of this region.
The execution of Trekkers Information Management System (TIMS) by TAAN, Pokhara, helps to collect and maintain the proper data of the trekkers, which is supportive for the marketing and promotional strategy of tourism.
- Nepal Association of Tour and Travel Agents, Regional Association, Pokhara
NATTA promotional tour is a major marketing activity of Nepal Association of Tour and Travel Agents (NATTA), Pokhara. NATTA Pokhara, has organized 4 tours in Nepal, 2 tours in India, and one tour each in Malaysia and Singapore is South East Asia till date. NATTA publishes brochures, posters, CDs depicting the products of Pokhara and distributes the same during the promotional tour. Apart from the promotional tour, NATTA Pokhara also conducts various tour operations’ and media writers’ FAM trips in Pokhara, participates in various international travel trade fairs and conferences which are supportive to enhance the destination image of Pokhara.
- Restaurant and Bar Association of Nepal Pokhara Chapter
Restaurant and Bar Association of Nepal (REBAN) Pokhara Chapter annually organizes Pokhara Street Festival. This event is becoming popular every year and witnesses’ visitors’ increase by leaps and bounds. The event starts from 28 of December every year and ends on 1st of January. As the name states, the festival is massively observed on the stretch of 3 km in the Lakeside area. Prior to this occasion, the members of REBAN organize the promotional tour including press meets to various cities of Nepal and India. This helps to promote Pokhara.
5.7 Role of various tourism associations as the organizers of several activities
There are a number of tourism associations in tourism sector of Pokhara, which are actively engaged in organizing marketing and promotion related activities.
Table 2 Role of other tourism organizations in marketing and promotion of Pokhara
|S.N||Name of organizations||Marketing focuses|
|1||Nepal Air sports Association||Promotion of Pokhara through organizing annual international paragliding championships participated by national and international paragliders|
2NMA Annapurna Chapter in association with NTBGolden Jubilee celebrations of the first ascend of Mt.Dhaulagiri in 2010. Instrumental in establishing International Mountain Museum (IMM) in Pokhara which is one of the prominent attractions for visitors. Promotion of the mountain people, their activities, mountain history, mountain-related scientific information of the orginition of the world mountain system and various mountain activities through IMM3Trekking Equipment Shops’ AssociationPromotion of Pokhara through the brand name of Annapurna, Everest, Lumbini, etc. in trekking equipment’s.4Embroidery and Garment AssociationPromotion of tourism activities like trekking, rafting, jungle safari, paragliding, religious symbols, tourist destinations, etc. trough embroidery costume.
Source: Compiled by author from various publications
5.8 Role of Media
Media contributes immensely towards achieving the stronger destination positioning, branding and attracting new tourists. In this context, Mr. Francesco Frangialli, the former UNWTO Secretary-General once rightly expressed the view that modern day tourism is highly dependent on media reporting. He said so because today a vast majority of travel decisions are made by people who have never seen their intended destinations first-hand for themselves (UNWTO 2007). Many people are making their travel decisions and are also travelling on their own by using information from multiple sources of media which include televisions, radios, newspapers, books, magazines, movies, and Internet.
In Nepalese context, the decreasing trends of tourist arrival during a decade long armed conflict and the increasing trends of tourist arrival after the peace process agreement proves that media plays a vital role for the development of tourism. In spite of the negative and totally sensitive incident of the 2001 royal massacre, people from all over the world still visited Nepal recognizing the worth of visiting Nepal for its natural and cultural fascinations. To some extent, it is the crucial role and support of media. Even in the armed conflict period, tourists realized that they were safe in Nepal and thus there were still large number of tourists, who continuously arrived Nepal (Upadhayaya 2012). By realizing the role of Media, the NTB and other various organizations have established a media Centre. The NTB regularly invites media people in Nepal to discuss the burning and sensitive issues about tourism and implement them for further promotion of tourism. Such a vital role of media and its influence are observed in national level either immediately after the royal massacre or during the armed conflict and post-conflict periods. Finally, media is found active in printing and broadcasting the appropriate image of Pokhara.
5.9 Role of non-tourist organizations
Pokharahas of several non-tourism related areas of social, commercial and even non-profitable organizations, which work on their own capacity for the overall development of tourism in Pokhara through its marketing and promotion. Their names and areas are presented in the table below.
Table 3 Role of non-tourism organizations in marketing and promotion of Pokhara
|S.N||Name of organizations||Marketing focuses|
|1||Annapurna Conservation Area Project||Promotion of the image of Annapurna area as an ecotourism destination|
|2||Empowering the Women of Nepal||Promotion of Pokhara and Annapurna mountain region through the organization of Nepalese Women Annapurna Expedition-2011. It has made the new history of mountaineering with first successful ascend of Mt. Annapurna-iv by four Nepalese women on 31st of May 2011.|
|3||Pokhara Sub Metropolitan City||Publication of Pokhara city map. Establishment of friendly relationship between Pokhara and Komegane city of Japan and promotion of Pokhara in Japan; Distribution of promotional brochures of Pokhara in foreign countries and their representatives visiting Pokahra.|
|4||International Mountain Museum||Promotion of the image of mountain region along (with Annapurna and Dhaulagiri as mountain tourist destination)|
|5||Annapurna daughters’ Club (ADC)||It organized with an expedition trip with 15 daughters of Pokhara from Pokhara to Annapurna Base Camp in 2010. It was a tourism promotional expedition and the declaration of the formation of the ADC. The ADC has been promoting Pokhara through documentary and brochures since 2010.|
|6||Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACA)||The ACAP has been playing a significant role to strengthen the eco- tourism in Pokhara and the Annapurna region.|
|7||Pokhara Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI)||Multiple activities and focuses as described below.|
Source: Compiled by author from various sources
Among the organizations as in table 5.3, PCCI has following large-scale marketing focuses.
Publication of Kaski Tourism Directory
- Promotion of Armala Village in Kaski as a model village and its international publicity.
- Constant promotion of Pokhara and Nepal during international exposure visits conducted by FNCCI.
- Annual organizations of the National Industrial and trade Fair in Pokhara.
- Coordination and organizations of familiarization trips for international and national members of various chambers and assistance to create awareness of Pokhara.
5.10 Role of individual tourism entrepreneurs
Apart from tourism associations, there are significant involvements of various individual tourism entrepreneurs in marketing and promoting Pokhara. There are 573 hotels and guest houses, 116 travel agencies, 81 trekking companies, 21 tourist standard restaurants and 15 paragliding companies and hundreds of handicraft centers, books shops, cyber cafes money changers (PTO 2011). Every year several individual companies have been participating in the travel and tourism fairs organized in the domestic and international markets. Most of them have their own promotional materials like brochures, posters, stickers, CDs, DVDs, websites, etc in which they reflect and grab attentions towards Pokhara as an exotic tourist destination. The travel trade companies have played significant roles for promoting destination (personal communication with travel trade people of Pokhara).
6. Discussion and recommendations
Tourism marketing and promotion is an important element of overall development of tourism. This is particularly important element of the overall development of tourism. This is particularly important for a growing tourist destination like Nepal and Pokhara in specific. In the initial phase, tourism of Pokharahad been promoted and developed automatically by mountaineers, words of mouth visitors, the recommendations of friends, and appealing message of the travelogue writers. In that period this destinations was largely promoted by hippies and backpackers. Now days, Pokhara is marketed and promoted with advertising, sales, promotion, internet marketing, travel fairs, road shows, etc. Almost every respondent during the collection of feedback of this chapter argued that word of mouth and friend’s recommendation are very effective marketing tools of Pokhara. Apart from these, internet has also become other prominent tool for marketing in Pokhara. Guide books and travel blogs are also important tools for the promotion of this region. The travel agents are found important mainly for packaged programs of tourists. The average duration of stay of the incoming international tourist in Pokhara is very low. It is claimed that average period of staying is only 2 nights. But tourists visiting or adventure purpose have generally longer period of staying than those who come for other purposes. The majority of tourism entrepreneurs in Pokhara claim that Pokhara is not promoted and marketed properly in the tourism market. There have not been sufficient promotional campaigns and programs for Pokhara. The current state of tourism marketing and promotion is not that much encouraging, effective and commendable. It may be the consequences of the overall minimum priority and investment by the state in tourism sector till now. However, NTB, entrepreneurs and other tourism related organizations, have been conducting relevant activities and campaigns. In this context, several institutions have given different forms of brands and also applied different marketing strategies coincided with the destination appeal and image of Pokhara while promoting their tourism products and services.
There is lack of comprehensive scientific and authentic statics on tourists with the various patterns related with their behaviors and activities in Pokhara. There is no application of an proper data collection processing and analysis strategy. Without the sufficient data, the market segment of Pokhara could not be classifies. In absence of the proper data, it is nearly impossible to draft marketing plan and take correct decision to form proper strategy.
Most of the tourism entrepreneurs of Pokhara are not so efficient and competitive in marketing and promotion strategy in comparison to such entrepreneurs in Kathmandu. Majority of the entrepreneurs do not have wide knowledge in e-commerce. There is lack of the skilled man power, especially the people of cross culture an multi-lingual communications except English. Not many entrepreneurs have direct contact with other tourism cities of Nepal. We have also observed unhealthy competition with the trends of price reduction in the tourism market of Pokhara. The government has no proper attention on visionary policy formulation and effective regulation regarding the promotion of domestic tourism. Pokhara holds the capacity to attract tourist for all seasons. Although there are many events in the local level, these cannot easily come up as effective for tourism promotion. After all, Pokhara has some challenges like making tourists stay longer, encouraging shopping and setting expenditures and additional fascinating sports with extra activities.
It is recommended that a 10 years master plan urgently needs to be formulated through the co-ordination between government and tourism stakeholders. This will not help in addressing the demands and future vision of tourism, but also on branding and overall package development of tourism in the long run. There is no particular concept and plan regarding the future sustainability of tourism. It is necessary to establish the lasting positive image of Pokhara as a responsible and sustainable tourist destination under mainstream global tourism trend. In order to accomplish such wish, the currently formulated code of conduct manual and corporate social responsibility guideline at destination level should be strongly implemented.
For the marketing approach, even one brand can help in a more effective way than diversified approaches. The theme “Pokhara for all seasons” has the strength of appeal for Pokhara. Since Kathmandu, Pokhara and Chitwan have been established as golden triangles for tourist’s movements in Nepal, there are further needs to develop Pokhara, chitwan and lumbini as silver triangles and Pokhara, Johmsom and Manang as adventurous triangles.
As the repeated visitors and the adventure lovers are potential tourists in Pokhara, the government and concerned agencies should come up with special policy to encourage such types of tourist’s market segments, which could allow additional activities and offer more attractions to these visitors.
Tourism of Pokhara is still suffering from the tendency of centralized policy formulation by the government. It is high time Pokhara itself participated in the formulation of overall tourism policy which covers both marketing and promotional aspects. The need of decentralization on the authority to formulate such policies is also linked with the local authority to issue permits of the mountain peaks and some restricted trekking trails from Pokhara.
Since Pokhara is a major tourist destination of Nepal, where nearly one third of the total international tourist visit, the regional office of NTB in Pokhara should be upgraded with more rights and authorities. It should be restructured with enough financial, human and technical resources. There must be adequate share of budgetary allocation for the promotion and marketing of tourism in Pokhara. The upgrading with higher capacity and resources could have following positive implications in marketing and promotion of Pokhara and its surrounding areas:
To increase the period of tourists’ stay and their expenditures, Pokhara could be developed as the tourist hub. From tourism hub of Pokhara, side trips could be organized to surrounding villages. To properly identify the tourism market segments of Pokhara according to numbers of their arrivals and the trends of their per day spending. To fulfill the vital needs of production and publications of tourism statistics associated with Pokhara and Annapurna region. The lack of complete picture of various trends of international tourists’ statistics is the preliminary barrier to strategically and effectively plan and implement tourism marketing and promotion. Moreover, data of the Indian tourist and domestic travelers to Pokhara are also not accounted for. There are urgent needs of complete package of statistics on the following variables
Table 4 recommendation for tourist’s statistics publications
Statistics on tourists’ arrivals number wise
For international tourists with other variables
For domestic tourists’ with other variables
|Nationality wise||Nationality wise|
|Purpose on visit||By Purpose on visit|
|By age||By age|
|By the mode of entry (by surface/ by air/through trekking)in Pokhara||By the mode of entry (by surface/ by air/through trekking)in Pokhara|
|Average length of stay||Average length of stay|
|Per day spending in us $||Per day spending in NPR|
The regional office of NTB in Pokhara itself can act as a center of collecting, processing, analyzing and producing complete statistical report on scheduled basis. With its restructuring the regional office of NTB in Pokhara should work in close association with PTC, civil Aviation Authority of Pokhara, Pokhara tourism office, ACAP, and several tourism associations, for the production of statistics.
- To execute tourism marketing and promotional campaign through single door approach. NTB regional office, Pokhara, in association with PTC could act upon it.
- To facilitate and capacitate Pokhara to focus on border’s city promotional campaign and domestic tourists’ on its own.
- To make tourism entrepreneurs effective and skillful marketing.
- To be able to establish a media centre and an effective crisis management team to handle any unforeseen crisis in tourism industry in Pokhara.
- To produce a tourism master plan of Pokhara. There is the lack of proper conservation of natural and cultural heritages. There is the lack of proper conservation of natural and cultural heritages. There is a big challenge in the sustainability of the tourism industry in Pokhara without a proper master plan.
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