Retiree tourism is simply the next major step in helping to develop our economy as well as our future.
--BY DR JAN L BEADERSTADT
These days it seems like every Nepali is anxious to leave Nepal and find a job elsewhere. But did you ever realise that many of our foreign visitors would actually like to retire and live in Nepal?
People in western countries these days are often looking to outsource their retirement to foreign countries where their retirement income will go further. Nepal would be an ideal place to retire to.
Nepal enjoys one of the highest numbers of returning visitors in any country in the world. People first come here to observe the scenic beauty of the mountains, but end up returning because they are impressed with the natural charm of its residents. Even with all of the problems life in Kathmandu can bring, it is still a wonderful place for foreigners to live.
I know. I came here on a business trip in 2008 and decided to retire here. Even with the load shedding (formerly), poor roads and traffic jams, the Kathmandu Valley is a wonderful place to visit. Every place has problems, but the hospitality of the people of Nepal is what brings people back again and again.
Nepal needs to develop itself as a place to retire to. Besides having natural beauty, medicine is cheap here when compared to US standards. My medication in USA would cost me over USD 1,500 a month. Here it costs me around USD 35. And the quality of the medicine is also good.
Utilities are cheap here as compared to USA. The average electric bill in America costs anywhere from USD150 to USD 250 a month, depending upon where you live. Here, it is just USD 10 to USD 25 a month depending upon the home.
Fuel is more expensive, and cars do cost more in Nepal than in USA. But every place will have its drawbacks. This is a small country, so this problem in not insurmountable.
Rents are much cheaper. A nice apartment in Kathmandu can be found for USD 150 to USD 300 a month. In USA, the same place would cost USD 1,000 a month.
Retirees would definitely benefit Nepal’s economy. If the average retiree has an income of USD 2,000 a month, that is over two hundred thousand rupees, it will buy the individual a really good retirement here.
Retirees spend money. They would rent good apartments, take vacations, buy medicine, support the top notch hospitals and would even increase employment. Every retiree would hire at least one person to cook and clean, and if they own a car, would definitely hire a driver. If they rent a house with a yard, no doubt would hire a gardener.
Retirees would eat out at good restaurants, thereby creating more jobs in the service sector. They would need medical services, thereby increasing jobs there.
If Nepal would attract 1,000 retirees who have a monthly pension of USD 2,000, that would bring into Nepal’s economy USD 2 million a month or a total of USD 24 million a year. If Nepal made the effort to bring 1,000 retirees a year over the next 10 years, that monthly income would increase to USD 20 million a month or USD 240 million a year.
Retirees would not be looking at taking Nepali jobs. Instead they would be creating employment opportunities. Their presence would improve the quality of hospitals in places like Kathmandu and Pokhara.
Retirees won’t be voting or participating in ‘bandas’ and other political strikes. They won’t be interested in getting involved in the political process. Instead, they will want to volunteer their services helping people, which will further contribute to the welfare of the nation.
What do we need to attract retirees? Nepal government needs to come up with a retiree visa, making it easy for retirees to come and stay in Nepal. Probably adjust a few laws to ease the process. This could contribute to an entirely new industry of helping retirees to find the services they need along with places to live.
We have already seen the benefit of tourism for Nepal. Retiree tourism is simply the next major step in helping to develop our economy as well as our future. The money they bring will be foreign investment, which will truly benefit the nation.
Dr Jan L Beaderstadt is an American living in Kathmandu and a specialist in time management. He is the managing director of Be-Kul Language Training Center, KusleChaur, Kathmandu.