Thursday, 24 September 2015

Trying to write differently.

As you read this, I'm sitting by a lake in Nepal. Water laps gently against stones on the shoreline. Boats chug across to a temple on a tiny island about three hundred metres away. Behind me, the Himalaya are reaching for the sky.

But this is not, for me, a 'normal travel-writing trip'. (Though I'm not sure I know what that is.) Instead I have responded to invitations from friends who live here, who have survived the earthquake and are putting their lived back together again, and who have asked for help to boost their tourist industry.

I understand the need. The Nepali are independent people and capable of rebuilding their homes and schools and hospitals and temples without the great and the good of the developed world telling them what to do. But they need money - and tourism, which was buried beneath the rubble for a while, is their most obvious, and immediate, source of income.

And yet, it seems, many are staying away. I know it's monsoon season, and so numbers will be down - but bookings are sparse for the drier seasons even though all the major treks (even Everest) have reopened. Hotels have spruced up their rooms. Restaurants are perfecting new dishes. Sherpas and mountain guides are ready with their maps and backpacks.

I do understand some people's reluctance to visit so soon after a disaster. It's hard, seeing rubble where once stood glorious temples. Trekking up Everest, knowing that so many people died there, must be a challenge.

And yet without tourists Nepal will sink into even greater need. The damage of the earthquake will be compounded by a floundering economy.

Which is where I come in. I have agreed to help promote tourism here. It was one of those enthusiastic promises we make without really thinking it through (or am I the only person who does that?). Because I don't have the faintest idea how to promote anything. Efforts to sell my books are somewhat apologetic. And this matters far more than a few books.

And so, please, if anyone has any idea how to do this, has links with marketing people who might know how to do this, or even has questions about the country that might prompt people to think about visiting, please ask me. Because this matters.

2 comments:

Leela said...

Looks like such a worthwhile project. I wish I had some expertise to help you but unfortunately I have no idea at all. A blog with photos and a link to the tourist board? Just an idea. Perhaps some travel writers or the tourist board can help you. Good luck with your project!

JO said...

Thank you, Leela - I do have a blog which will have photos when I get home. And am hoping for help from travel writers. And I have been encouraged by passing strangers like you who applaud when I'm trying to do. A drop in the ocean maybe, but a guide I've met her has reminded me that many drops make an ocean.