By Tim Binnall
Less than a week after it launched to considerable fanfare, a controversial Nepalese tourism campaign centered around a cartoonish depiction of the Yeti has been canceled. The 'Visit Nepal' promotion kicked off last week when a series of sizeable statues of the legendary cryptid, intended to be placed throughout the country, were unveiled to the public. Almost immediately, people began crying foul over how the seven-foot-tall sculptures looked more like sumo wrestlers than the mysterious creature said to lurk in the Himalayas.
Although it initially seemed that the Nepalese government was committed to continuing the campaign despite the artistic criticism, the promotion soon also became problematic for religious groups in the country because there were deities painted on some of the statues, which led to a somewhat surprising response from the public. "Many people have begun to worship the figures as deities, but the Yeti is a mystical beast," a heritage activist told a local news outlet, "this has damaged the religious feelings of the people."
When pictures of this phenomenon began circulating on Nepalese social media, the simmering backlash against the statues turned into a full-blown furor to the point that even one of the co-founders of the campaign lamented that "the plan had become a bad religious experience." Faced with little recourse, authorities decided to pull the plug on the promotion, ordering the statues removed from around two dozen tourist destinations where they had already been placed and nixing plans to install all of the remaining sculptures.
Although an artist involved with the project promised that they are planning on designing a new Yeti statue, one can't help but be skeptical that the campaign will be revived considering how the first attempt turned into something of a financial boondoggle. That said, if the ultimate goal of the promotion was to get attention on Nepal, it undoubtedly accomplished that task as the unfortunate-looking statues did wind up making international headlines, albeit for all the wrong reasons.