Kathmandu, July 20
Income from the travel sector under the service account increased by 9.7 per cent in the first 11 months of the last fiscal year 2018-19.
According to Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB), the country earned a total of Rs 68.63 billion from the travel industry in the review period.
Such income was Rs 62.57 billion in the same period of the previous fiscal. In 2018, a total of 1.17 million tourists visited Nepal via both air and land routes while a total of 585,531 tourists have visited Nepal in first half of 2019.
Although income has been increasing, the data compiled by the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation has shown that the average length of stay of tourists and their per day spending has declined. As mentioned in the Nepal Tourism Statistics 2018 published by the ministry, the average length of stay stands at 12 days, while the average per day spending per tourist has dropped to $44.
Contrary to the government’s plan to bring in quality foreign tourists with high-spending capacity, average spending of tourists in the country dropped by 22.73 per cent in 2018.
Meanwhile, the three-year development plan (2016- 2018) of the government had aimed to increase the length of stay of foreigners to 14 days by 2018, which ranged from eight to 13.5 days in the past. However, the government has failed to achieve that target as well.
Hence, data has shown that the number of high-spending tourists in Nepal has been declining in recent years against the government’s plan to increase the spending from tourists.
Moreover, late tourism minister Rabindra Adhikari had said that the ministry has targeted to raise the contribution of travel in the country’s GDP to 10.3 per cent, while the current contribution stands at 3.5 per cent.
As per Binayak Shah, a hotelier, the same old tourist destinations will not entice tourists to lengthen their stay in Nepal.
“We do not have new tourism packages beyond major cities like Kathmandu, Pokhara and Lumbini.
If we are to increase the length of stay of tourists and their spending, we need to identify new tourism products across the country and promote them globally among tourists,” he added.
He further stressed on the development of tourism infrastructure and strengthening the country’s national flag carrier to create credibility in the international market. “We must have our own means of transportation to facilitate travellers,” he said. “Tourists will find it more feasible to travel to other destinations rather than spending on expensive air tickets to fly to Nepal.”
A version of this article appears in print on July 21, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.