Out-bound Nepalis almost equal arriving tourists

Kathmandu, October 25:

The number of Nepalis going abroad for various purposes almost equal the number of tourists coming to Nepal, according to a government statistics.

Most foreigners chose Nepal as their destination for tourism related activities including mountaineering, trekking, rafting, pilgrimage and business, while Nepalis go abroad mostly for employment, higher studies, medical treatment and few for business.

According to the annual publication of the ministry of culture, tourism and civil aviation (MoCTCA) — Nepal Tourism Statistics 2006, the number of tourists visiting Nepal stood at 375,398, whereas the number of Nepalis going abroad was 373,362 in 2005.

Of the total tourists who visited Nepal last year, 42.7 per cent came for holidaying, 16.4 per cent for mountaineering and trekking, 12.7 per cent for religious activities, 4.5 per cent for formal programmes and the remaining 17.9 per cent for various other purposes, including business.

On the other hand, 272,515 Nepalis out of the total left the country for employment at various countries, 23,498 travelled abroad for seminars and conferences, 20,021 flew out for business activities, 15,838 as pilgrims, 8,644 for holidaying, 7,599 for higher studies and training and 2,664 for medical treatment.

Hikmat Singh Aiyer, manager, Tourism Products and Human Resource Development Unit at Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), said the number of Nepalis going abroad has increased significantly in recent years, especially for foreign employment and higher studies.

“The prolonged conflict and lack of opportunities back home have compelled tens of thousands of youth to go abroad in search of greener pastures,” said Aiyer, adding the number of Nepalis leaving the country for holidaying and tourism related purposes have also gone up.

The increased air links and the number of flights have also contributed to the growth of Nepalis going abroad. The number of Nepalis attending seminars and conferences abroad has gone up mainly due to multinational companies, which invite their local dealers at such programmes.

Likewise, Nepali tour operators and travel agents have also joined hands with tourism authorities in South East Asian countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong and float many attractive holiday packages. Local tour operators say that Nepalis going for vacation to these countries have dramatically gone up in recent years.

Dhruva Narayan Shrestha, president of Nepal Association of Tour and Travel Agents (NATTA) agrees that the number of Nepalis leaving the country has significantly gone up. “Even tourists are not getting seats during the peak season,” he added.

Most airlines flying to Kathmandu carry Nepali passengers, which mostly include workers going to Malaysia or various Gulf countries. “Only few of them carry majority of tourists,” Shrestha said.

According to figures, Abu Dhabi (UAE) received the largest number of Nepalis in 2005 that stood at 71,066 of the total, which was followed by Bangkok which received 61,700 Nepalis. New Delhi came to the third position, as the capital city of neighbouring India received 57,294 Nepalis.