Nepali tourists catch neighbours’ eyes

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, May 12:

Even as Nepal struggles to keep the number of tourists visiting Nepal up, the tourism sector has been undergoing a quiet revolution, emerging as a regional tourism hub, generating a significant number of outbound tourists.

Industry experts are confident, in the wake of the exponential growth in outbound tourists, that a huge potential remains.

The first NATTA Travel Mart-2005, scheduled for May 13-14 in Kathmandu, is a concrete step towards achieving this potential.

“Outbound tourism from Nepal is picking up,” says Rabi Poudel, president of Nepal Association of Tour and Travel Agents (NATTA). “We are sure that the event would send a positive message about Nepal and its tourism to the world,” he adds.

Talking about the outbound tourism, Poudel says that the number of visitors from Nepal visiting some South East Asian countries exceeds the number of tourists coming to Nepal from them. A total of 44,738 Nepalis visited Bangkok in 2003, whereas only 11,392 Thai people came to Nepal.

“South East Asian countries like Thailand, Mal-aysia, Singapore and Hong Kong are popular destinations for Nepali leisure travellers, while Tibet, Sikkim and Darjeeling Nepali nature lovers and adventure travellers. India however remains the most preferred outbound destination for Nepali visitors,” said Bhola Birkam Thapa, managing director of President Travel and Tours.

Along with the increasing charm of outbound tourism, ticket booking, worldwide hotel reservations, purchase of travel tour package and other necessary provisions can be done easily in Nepal, says Thapa. “One can book worldwide ticket or hotel reservation or package even in local currency.”

Mohan Khanal, managing director of Royal Nepal Airline Corporation (RNAC) said that RNAC is considering outbound visitors as its potential customers. “RNAC is giving 25 per cent discount on ticket during NATTA Travel Mart,” he said.

Aditya Baral, manager, Nepal Tourism Board says, ”Outbound visitors is a result of globalisation and improving financial position.”

Poudel added, “Participation by national tourism boards from Bangladesh, India, Tibet and Malaysia shows Nepal’s potential in outbound tourists.”