As the country gets ready to herd 2 million tourists into Nepal in 2020, there may be one category of long-term visitors we are overlooking: retirees.
Thailand, for example, is already way ahead of us in providing incentives for westerners to spend their retirements in a warm climate, with beaches, world class medical care, and qualified masseuse. Nepal must do the same, but since the Thais are way ahead of us, we should promote our USP as a retirement destination targeting discredited Indian godmen, tax evaders, money launderers, smugglers, alimony fugitives, deposed tyrants and tycoons.
There is a huge untapped market for thieves and knaves on the lookout of a safe haven, where they will be left alone in the autumn of their lives to splurge their ill-gotten wealth, but among their own kind. Nepal offers the perfect retirement destination for them: laws are lax, the scenery is nice and they will feel right at home here among local crooks who are among the world’s friendliest.
But just like everything else, I am sure we are going to bungle it and arrest the first war criminal to arrive at Kathmandu airport and hand him over to the ICC. If we want Nepal to be a serious destination for the world’s gangsters, we have to gird up our loins. After all, competition is stiff. The Saudis, North Koreans and Burkina Fasonistas are already offering tax holidays, one-window cash repatriation and a free dental plan for retirees.
We have to loosen up our archaic banking laws to make it is easy for despots to move their money in and out of Nepal without let or hindrance — provided they give us a cut. After all, France allowed Emperor Bokassa to spend his retirement in Paris in exchange for parking the moolah he plundered from the Chadian exchequer in France. Baby Doc Duvalier also retired in the south of France with his Tonton Macoute comrades and found it quite agreeable. Florida is the favourite destination for Latin American junta retirees, superannuated death squad leaders and failed coup plotters. The Saudis hosted Idi Amin in Riyadh and even allowed him to indulge in occasional cannibalism.
What I’m trying to get at here is that despite Nepal’s myriad advantages, it is not going to be a cakewalk to convince the world’s tinpot dictators and elected despots to retire here. What do we offer the world’s scum that others don’t?
The first thing of course is never to sign any extradition treaties with anyone. The second thing is to restore dictatorship in Nepal so overseas authoritarians can hobnob with our own authorities and teach them a few more useful tricks. Disband the CIAA and get out of FTAF: both have terrible acronyms anyway.