HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: Lack of aircraft for the national carrier has made Nepal an expensive destination for the tourists.
“Though fooding and lodging and other tour packages in the country are considered comparatively cheaper to other destinations, it is the airfare that has made Nepal an expensive destination,” said a member of Nepal Tourism Year 2011 working committee, Dhurba Narayan Shrestha.
“Airfare to Nepal is 50 per cent expensive than the airfare to India,” he said, adding that visitors from European countries are forced to pay extra airfare of $1,000 to visit Nepal from other foreign airlines whereas, if only we had enough national carriers with direct flights to Europe the airfare would have been around $700 - $800.
In ten years interval, the number of tourist arriving Nepal from Japan and Germany has decreased largely, Shrestha cited the example. “Earlier total Japanese and German tourist arriving Nepal used to be around 45,000 that has been now limited to half due to lack of direct flight. Then, Royal Nepal Airlines Corporation (RNAC) — present Nepal Airlines Corporation — used to operate flights to both Europe and Japan.
According to Immigration Office TIA’s arrival data, in July the tourist arrivals increased by 20 per cent but the arrivals from Japan registered a negative growth of 7.9 per cent compared to last July. Similarly arrivals from Germany, Netherlands, Spain also recorded negative growth of 45.3 per cent, 24.1 per cent, and 21.1 per cent respectively.
Currently some two dozen international airlines fly to Nepal but the
ailing national flag carrier flies to
only limited destinations due to
lack of aircraft and regular political bickering that has hit the airlines financials hard.
The key reason behind the drop
in the visitor arrivals from the key tourist destinations like Japan and Germany is due to lack of direct air connectivity and flights of the national carrier and expensive airfare of foreign airlines, he said.
The foreign airlines flying to Nepal are expensive compared to Nepal Air lines, he said, adding that foreign airlines are charging airfare of Rs 13,000 to Rs 15,000 on Kathmandu-New Delhi-Kathmandu route, whereas the Nepal Airlines Corporation charges only around Rs 9,000.
“Due to expensive airfare and lack of direct connectivity, European visitors shy away from visiting Nepal. From long-haul markets, Europe registered overall negative growth of 5.6 per cent in July, according to the data. “The expensive airfare has made the quality tourist and their spending decrease,” Shrestha added.
Though, the average tourist stay has increased but their spending has decreased.
“As we are unable to afford economy airfare to the long haul destinations, we should revisit our strategy and develop market at the short haul destinations like India, China, Malaysia, and Singapore,” Shrestha suggested.
According to Nepal Tourism Board’s (NTB) data, the arrivals from Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, and Thailand registered a positive growth of 18.9 per cent, 36 per cent, 23.9 per cent, and 107.1 per cent in July.
Similarly arrivals from India and China recorded encouraging growth.