Kathmandu, December 9, 2016:Â Nepalâ€™s tourism industry, which took a major hit following the deadly earthquake in 2015, is witnessing signs of recovery as the number of foreigners visiting Nepal by air increased by 32 per cent in the first 11 months of 2016 as compared to the corresponding period of the previous year.
According to data from the Department of Immigration (DoI), 655,144 foreigners visited Nepal till November this year. Due to the earthquake that devastated the country, followed by the months-long blockade at the Nepal-India border points, the number of foreign tourists visiting the country was restricted to 493,503 in the same period of last year.
The revival of tourism sector can be ascertained as the tourist arrival figure for January to November this year has exceeded the tourist arrival figure of 2014 when a total of 585,981 foreigners visited Nepal via aerial routes.
â€œThe countryâ€™s tourism industry is reviving at a good pace, thanks to collaborative efforts made by the government, private sector and other stakeholders to promote Nepal in the international market,â€ Deepak Raj Joshi, chief executive officer of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), told The Himalayan Times. â€œHad the blockade not been imposed, Nepalâ€™s tourism sector would have fully bounced back despite the devastating earthquake.â€
According to Joshi, tourist arrivals which grew by 14 per cent in the first six months of 2016, is witnessing higher growth in the second half of the year.
He also attributes the growth in tourist arrivals to efforts made by non-resident Nepalis (NRNs) to promote the country as a tourism destination and lucrative tourism packages introduced by travel and tour operators.
The DoI data show that India, China, United States of America, Sri Lanka and United Kingdom topped the tourist inflow chart in the first 11 months of 2016. As per data, the number of Indian tourists arriving in Nepal has surged to 105,047 in January to November period this year against 68,864 in the same period last year.
Similarly, Chinese tourist arrivals till November this year increased to 71,430 against 62,955 in the corresponding period of last year. Tourist arrivals from the US also increased to 48,481 as compared to 39,108 Americans who visited Nepal in the same period of 2015.
Nepal has also witnessed impressive rise in Sri Lankan tourists. A total of 43,116 Sri Lankans visited Nepal in the first 11 months of 2015, which has risen to 56,109 in the same period this year. Likewise, the number of British tourists that flew into the country in the review period surged to 42,481 against 27,180 in same period of last year.
However, Amar Man Shakya, president of Hotel Association Nepal (HAN), said that though the number of foreign tourists is increasing compared to the previous year, the domestic tourism sector is yet to fully revive and effective promotional campaigns by the government is a must to attract quality tourists.
By Sujan Dhungana