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Nepal’s Tourism Endeavor: A Race to Welcome One Million Tourists

As the year 2023 reaches its final quarter, Nepal has set its eyes on an ambitious target: welcoming one million foreign tourists. From January to August, Nepal has seen the arrival of 601,360 foreign visitors. August recorded a significant inflow with 67,153 tourists visiting the country, showing a positive growth compared to the same month in the previous years. In the race against time, Nepal needs nearly 400,000 more foreign visitors in the next four months to meet its target.

Tourism’s Ups and Downs in Previous Years

In 2019, Nepal witnessed its tourism peak, hosting 1,197,191 international guests. However, the following years observed a sharp decline due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with numbers plummeting to 230,085 in 2020 and even further to 150,962 in 2021. The Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) credits the surge in 2023 to expanding international air connectivity and various promotional events.

Optimism from The Nepal Tourism Board (NTB)

Despite the challenges, Maniraj Lamichhane, the director of the NTB, maintains a positive stance. Lamichhane notes that September marks the beginning of the main tourist season, reaching its zenith in October and November. With the expansion of flight services to Gautam Buddha International Airport in Bhairahawa, NTB expects a boost in tourist arrivals.

National and International Tourist Inflow

Nepal, a hub of natural beauty and home to the tallest peak, Mount Everest, attracted tourists from a myriad of nations. The majority in August hailed from India with a count of 26,665, followed by China, the United States, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and various European countries. Nepal Tourism Board’s official site emphasizes Nepal’s unique attractions including adventure tourism, ecotourism, and cultural visits to places like Kathmandu.

Challenges and Concerns in Tourism Industry

  • Despite the optimism, concerns persist, especially concerning the tepid tourist inflow in Pokhara, a renowned destination in Nepal.
  • High airfares, compared to European destinations, are seen as a deterrent for potential visitors.
  • The anticipated influx of Chinese tourists has yet to reach the expected levels.
  • Pom Narayan Shrestha, president of the Pokhara Tourism Council, stresses the need for a strong national airline, pointing out that the country’s reliance on foreign airlines, due to Nepal Airlines Corporation’s limitations, is a significant hurdle.

Strengthening Air Connectivity

The launch of additional flight services to Gautam Buddha International Airport in Bhairahawa offers a beacon of hope. Enhanced connectivity not only eases the commute for international tourists but also plays a pivotal role in promoting Lumbini, a UNESCO World Heritage site and birthplace of Lord Buddha. Furthermore, Nepal Airlines Corporation must strive to expand its routes and capabilities, possibly through collaborations or joint ventures with foreign carriers, to minimize reliance on foreign airlines.

Strategic Promotion and Partnerships

Active promotion in untapped markets can boost tourist numbers. Targeted marketing campaigns that highlight Nepal’s diverse offerings – from trekking in the Himalayas to wildlife safaris in Terai – can attract various segments of tourists. Establishing partnerships with travel influencers, and international travel agencies, and organizing joint tourism events can enhance Nepal’s visibility on the global tourism map.

Way Forward: Addressing Challenges and Ensuring Growth

Shrestha believes a robust and competitive Nepal Airlines could revolutionize tourism, offering services to high-demand destinations at reasonable fares. Entrepreneurs in the tourism sector have expressed reservations regarding the government’s ambitious target, citing the need for improved air connectivity, competitive fares, and a favorable tourist season. A holistic approach, addressing both infrastructural needs and promotional activities, is crucial for Nepal to attain its ambitious tourist target for 2023. With the concerted efforts of the government, NTB, and the private sector, Nepal can not only meet its target but also establish itself as a premier tourist destination in the years to come.

Jaleel Mwangi
Jaleel studied communications and has a friendly nature. He's dedicated and excels in editing videos, photos, and sounds. He's passionate about creating stories that connect with people. Jaleel is confident in his communication skills and has a pleasant character. He aims to produce content that everyone enjoys. When he's not busy, he likes to adventure and watch Sci-Fi movies.