Kathmandu, August 23
Nepal is gradually losing surplus in trade in services as travel expenses incurred by Nepalis has increased substantially along with the rising number of Nepali outbound travellers, migrant workers and students going abroad for studies.
Travel expenses of Nepali outbound travellers increased by 41.7 per cent to Rs 79.93 billion in the last fiscal, compared to the travel expenses in fiscal 2015-16. Despite a moderate slowdown in the number of job-seekers going abroad for employment, travel expenses made by Nepalis surged heavily last fiscal as compared to Rs 56.42 billion in
fiscal 2015-16, according to the Macroeconomic Outlook of last fiscal unveiled by Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB).
Nepali outbound travellers had spent a total of Rs 56.42 billion in fiscal 2015-16, against Rs 53.19 billion in fiscal 2014-15. The NRB data reveal that expenses of Nepali outbound travellers have been shooting up every passing year.
According to senior economist Keshab Acharya, travel expenses in the country have increased as Nepalis working abroad travel to Nepal at least once a year and there are around 4.5 million Nepalis working abroad. Also, outflow of students has also been surging annually.
The amount that the country spends on travel is substantially higher than the amount the country receives from tourists visiting Nepal. During the review period, Nepal earned Rs 58.53 billion from tourists under travel heading against expenses of Rs 79.93 billion, according to the Macroeconomic Outlook.
Nepal’s surplus in trade in services has gradually narrowed down as travel expenses made by Nepalis have skyrocketed. The country’s surplus in trade in services stood at Rs 27.62 billion in fiscal 2014-15, which plummeted to Rs 9.85 billion in 2015-16 and further declined to Rs 2.89 billion in the last fiscal.
As per travel and tour operators, the trend of Nepalis travelling abroad for vacation and business purposes has been increasing of late. Incentive tours, dealers meet, exhibition and conferences in foreign countries is in a rising trend.
“Travelling to foreign destinations has become a trend as corporate houses have been providing travel incentives to senior staff members,” as per travel operators, who sell travel packages.
A large number of Nepali outbound travellers are corporate employees and business owners. Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, United Arab Emirates and Cambodia are popular destinations for Nepali outbound travellers for vacation and for corporate incentive packages as visas are easily available in these countries, as per travel operators.
Though the number of Nepalis travelling abroad for vacation and business purposes has been increasing in recent years, a large chunk of the travel expenses is still incurred by migrant workers travelling abroad for jobs.
A version of this article appears in print on August 24, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.