Nepal Should Consider Organising More Familiarisation Trips

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Nepal Should Consider Organising More Familiarisation Trips

Huseyin Kurttr, the president of the International Association of the MICE Industry and owner of Oliva MICE, an agency specialising in MICE (Meeting, Incentive, Conference, and Exhibition) for corporates, and GlobeMeets, an international tourism marketing company, was in Nepal recently. Tamish Giri from New Business Age caught up with him to discuss Nepal's potential to attract Turkish tourists. Excerpts:

What unique cultural experiences do you believe Nepal offers to tourists that set it apart from other destinations?

We came here with 15 travel agencies, including leisure travel agencies and outgoing culture tourism agencies. My focus is on MICE. We are delighted to be here and appreciate your country very much, aside from the traffic issues. We understand there is a lot of road construction which we hope will resolve the traffic problems soon.

Comparing to European countries, Nepal stands out with its unique religion, rituals, nature and hospitality. People here are very warm and welcoming, and we found the tourism industry professionals to be exceptionally kind. If you ask about Turkish hospitality, people say it is very nice, but I find Nepali hospitality even warmer and more sympathetic.

We visited three cities in Nepal: Kathmandu, Chitwan and Pokhara. We landed in Kathmandu and explored the city before flying to Chitwan. The flight to Chitwan was very convenient, taking just 20 minutes. Chitwan is known for its agriculture and ecotourism which is perfect for those interested in eco-culture. However, we particularly enjoyed Kathmandu and Pokhara.

For incentive and MICE organisations, I recommend a program of four nights and five days: two nights in Kathmandu and two nights in Pokhara. Travelling to Nepal is very easy. We flew with Jazeera Airways and the journey was very convenient. From Istanbul to Kuwait, it is just a three and half hours flight, and Kuwait to Kathmandu is a five and a half hours journey. The transit time in Kuwait is only 50 minutes making the total travel time about only ten hours.

When we return to Turkey, we will promote Nepal as an incentive destination for corporates, as well as for leisure and cultural tourism through our agencies.

Given your extensive experience in the tourism sector, how do you see Nepal's tourism industry evolving in the next decade. What opportunities or challenges do you foresee for businesses operating in this market?

I think Nepal has lots of opportunities. I would like to start with the Turkish market. Turkish people do not have much information about Nepal. This presents a significant opportunity for you. After this familiarisation trip, there will be both a PR and business effect. The numbers will increase. 

Nepal’s unique religion, rituals, hospitality, people, and nature are major opportunities. These are your strengths. For example, we visited Kathmandu and Pokhara. In Pokhara, we saw a beautiful natural lake. There are various hotel categories, restaurant and bar options, and even good massage alternatives, which we tried. These aspects make your destination appealing and unique.

As the president of the International MICE Industry Association, how do you perceive Nepal's potential for hosting MICE events compared to other destinations? 

If I compare leisure programs and incentive programs, incentive programs are usually shorter. They are popular and typically last four to five nights at most. One potential issue with incentive programs is inter-city traffic. However, there is no visa problem, and you can travel to Nepal with various airline options.

When we return to Turkey, we will promote Nepal as an incentive destination for corporates, as well as for leisure and cultural tourism through our agencies.

What are your suggestions for entrepreneurs or businesses interested in entering the Nepali tourism market?

Considering factors like market saturation and cultural sensitivity, I want to emphasise a very important point: the Turkish market and Turkish people lack information about your destination. This familiarisation trip, therefore, is crucial. After that, our numbers will certainly increase. 

However, to make this destination more popular in the Turkish market, consistent promotion is key. In sales and marketing, certain points are essential: if you touch, you can feel; if you feel, you can sell. This trip has allowed us to experience and appreciate Nepal firsthand. We are now ready to promote this destination with enthusiasm. When we return, we will actively promote Nepal. Therefore, I believe that Nepali tourism authorities should consider organising more familiarisation trips. We are ready to help in this endeavour.

How do Turkish tourists typically enjoy their experiences in destinations like Nepal? What should Nepal do to attract them? 

Nepal offers diverse experiences including various accommodation options. This diversity is important not only for the Turkish market but globally. In Turkey, there are five main tourism segments: outgoing incentive, outgoing MICE, outgoing leisure, outgoing FIT and outgoing cultural tourism. Additionally, there are backpackers and adventure tourists which make a total of seven key segments. Each segment can choose different hotel categories based on their preferences. For Turkish tourists, certain factors, such as hospitality and breakfast options, are very important. During our four-night stay in Nepal, we stayed in three different hotels and the breakfast variety was impressive. Moreover, the Nepali religions and rituals, with numerous temples and the presence of Buddhism and Hinduism, can be intriguing to Turkish tourists, who are mostly familiar with Christianity from travelling in Europe. 

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