For travelers who would like to visit Nepal, there are now virtual travel possibilities in this beautiful country. Via the internet platform ‘MyNepal.online’, travelers can discover the country from the comfort of their homes, accompanied by a local host, during a live virtual tour. The tours generate direct income for Nepali guides who have lost their jobs in tourism due to COVID-19.
The outbreak of COVID-19 has had major consequences for everyone working in tourism, worldwide. Plus, many countries are now in lock-down, so travelers are not able to come to Nepal. This has had ramifications for the local population and the more than 1.3 million Nepali who work in tourism. No work means no income. It is expected that it will take many more months before tourism in Nepal starts again.
Sonja Rusticus from Bardia Homestay in Nepal and Helmich Riezebos from travel company Travel Nepal in Groningen, Netherlands, have together set up the non-profit platform MyNepal.online. Members of the Royal Mountain Travel team in Kathmandu have offered virtual tours since August 2020. The main goal of the platform is to support Nepalis working in tourism, in exchange for a virtual visit to Nepal.
Virtual tours, webinars and workshops
Hosts (local experts) offer their virtual tours and workshops through the non-profit platform MyNepal Online. During all tours, participants have live contact with a local host, and can ask them questions directly.
Participants can walk with a host through the medieval streets and famous squares of the royal city of Bhaktapur. Or, explore Kathmandu Durbar Square and learn more about the palace, the kumari house and the temples.
And, have you ever heard about the Dhaka Topi? The fabric that makes the national headwear of Nepali men is made in Tansen. During a virtual walk, participants will visit a traditional handloom cottage industry, where the original cotton fabric (Dhaka) is woven with human hands and skills.
To travel further afield, participants can get acquainted with the Nepali way of life in the countryside of Western Nepal and learn about the tigers and other fauna and flora in Bardia National Park.
To improve the cooking skills, participants can take a dal bhat cooking workshop. Participants cook in their own kitchen ‘alongside’ the host in Nepal, who will teach them how to prepare the national dish of Nepal.
Previous participants’ perspectives have been very positive: “It felt like I was in Nepal”; “I have been in Nepal before, but I visited new places”; “The food was very tasty and the tour excellent” are frequently heard among the feedback from participants.
You can book a private virtual tour every day of the week. The price depends on the number of participants.
Impact of MyNepal.online
In addition to generating income for their family, these tours are important for the local hosts, so they can continue to share their knowledge and passion, and maintain skills and develop new (online) skills. Most proceeds from the tickets go directly to the host. One fifth of the proceeds go to the community, such as to workers like drivers or chambermaids who cannot host or organize a virtual tour. The platform also wants to support them.
Virtual travel is a new way of traveling in these pandemic times, but also for the future. It gives would-be tourists the opportunity to learn more about this beautiful Himalayan country, and it helps them dream about and plan their future trips to Nepal.
We are looking forward to welcoming you soon.
Your local hosts: Narayan, Monica, Zunu, Abhishek, Balkrishna, Manmohan and Ragubhir