The Global tourism ministerial conclave today in Kathmandu Nepal had Crisis management and Global Resilience on the top of its agenda.
Deepak Raj Joshi, the CEO of the Nepal Tourism Board had joined the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Center put in place by the Hon Tourism Minister Ed Bartlett from Jamaica and former Secretary-General of the UNWTO Dr. Taleb Rifai.
The Nepal Prime Minister Rt. Hon. EP Sharma Oli presented a gift to the Jamaica minister of tourism Edward Bartlett attending the ministerial meeting in Kathmandu yesterday.
Nepal Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli was born on 22 February 1952 and is more commonly known as KP Sharma Oli. Oli previously served as prime minister from 11 October 2015 to 3 August 2016 and was the first elected prime minister under the newly adopted Constitution of Nepal.
A proud minister Bartlett told eTurboNews from Kathmandu: “Tomorrow we launch the Global Resilience and crisis management center at the University of Nepal.”
Nepal Tourism has become an important player in global tourism after the nation was almost destroyed after the 2015 earthquake. Also, the Caribbean took a lead in addressing the global crisis affecting the global travel and tourism industry.
Bartlett addressed a key audience of tourism and government leaders in Kathmandu noting:
Similar to the Caribbean, Asia-Pacific is described as one of the most disaster-prone regions in the world with its extensive coastlines, low-lying territories, mountainous terrains, and many small island states. The geographical characteristics of the region make it highly vulnerable to rising sea levels and extreme weather variations. Nepal, in particular, has been singled out as the fourth most at-risk country to climate change impacts in the 2018-2035 Climate Change Vulnerability Index. In recent times, the county has experienced many adverse environmental changes that have been linked to climate change and global warming.
These include high temperatures, unpredictable rainfalls, floods, landslides, snow cover melt, and snow line retreat, increases or decreases in river discharge and deforestation. These adverse environmental changes have also negatively impacted the country’s cultural resources as the country’s mountains, hills, rivers, forests and plain landscapes support a highly diverse array of cultures and livelihoods.
Nepal’s tourism sector is also at risk. Tourism one of the largest industries in Nepal and contributed $0.8 billion) USD to the economy, or the equivalent to 4% of total gross domestic product (GDP), in 2017. The growing sector is however increasingly under direct and indirect threat from climate change. In 2015, the country was struck by a devastating earthquake that resulted in almost 9,000 fatalities and caused injuries to nearly 22,000.
Earlier this year, a heavy rainstorm killed at least 28 persons and also injured hundreds. In the aftermath of the earthquake in 2015, the country witnessed a drastic decline in tourism arrivals and revenues resulting in severe impacts on more than one million Nepalis whose livelihoods are tied to the sector. The economic cost of loss and damage in the country’s tourism sector as a result of climate impact has been estimated at an annual average of 2-3 % of total GDP between 1971 and 2015. Ultimately the frequency of climatic disasters in a tourist destination will undermine both destination security and attractiveness which will result in a decline in tourism performance.
Thankfully, the Nepalese government has been very responsive to the recent climatic changes. The government has already activated its National Adaption Programme of Action which has been described as a strategic tool to assess climate vulnerability and systematically respond to climate change adaptation issues by developing appropriate adaptation measures.
The NAPA has recently included tourism as one of the nine thematic and cross-cutting areas for prioritized adaptation action. Elements of the response to build the country’s tourism resilience under the National Adaptation Programs of Action include the conceptualization of an advanced early warning that recognizes that a more sophisticated system that gives actionable weather intelligence and stimulates those at risk to act can build tourism confidence.
Another recommendation is making climate investments part of a business approach to corporate social responsibility which would contribute to sustainable development by delivering economic, social and environmental benefits to all stakeholders. A climate action platform is also being conceptualized whereby all private sector instructions can come together to address issues relating to tourism and climate change.
This could facilitate the exchange of ideas, best practices, and experiences. This platform could also raise financial resources as and when required. Climate-proofing the National Tourism Strategic Plan will guide the government, local communities and the tourism industry and its professionals, as well as visitors, on matters related to responsible and sustainable tourism.
The Nepal Tourism Board has been positioning the country as a global center for tourism resilience in Asia. In June of this year Katmandu, Nepal hosted the first Asian Resilience Summit which was jointly organized by the Global Travel and Tourism Resilience Council and the Nepal Tourism Board. The Summit was designed to review successful policies in Nepal which have led to the stabilization and growth of the travel sector since the 2015 earthquake. The Summit was also billed as a prelude to the Visit Nepal Campaign 2020, themed “Nepal: for Lifetime Experience.”
In hindsight, Nepal must be credited for responding in a timely and affirmative manner to the urgent climate-related challenges that are confronting the country’s future. The rest of the world should take note. In recognition of the country’s stellar efforts to build tourism resilience as well as to commemorate the launch of the Visit Nepal Campaign 2020, I am extremely honored that Nepal has been chosen as the location for the establishment of the next satellite Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre which I am confident will successfully build on the recovery and resilience efforts that the country has made so far.
The Centre will serve as a focal point to support the efforts of Asian destinations to enhance destination preparedness and to manage as well as to recover from disruptions and crises that impact tourism and threaten economies and livelihoods in the region.
The first GTRCMC was opened in Jamaica at the University of the West Indies Mona Campus earlier this year and has tremendously boosted the Caribbean’s capacity for resilience through efforts aimed at promoting scientific research, raising public awareness, identifying best practices, generating useful toolkits, developing assessment standards and also facilitating consultations among stakeholders and interest groups to ensure a truly inclusive and collaborative approach to building tourism resilience in the region.
Similar to the one in Jamaica, the Centre to be established here in Nepal will be called to operate in a global context that is characterized by not only new challenges but also new opportunities for the sector to improve its product offerings, expand local economic opportunities and balance economic with social and environmental interests to ensure its sustainability and long term survival. This Centre thus represents hope and assured continuity of tourism as a local and regional product and as a global enterprise.