Surge in tourist arrivals

Kathmandu, April 5:

Tourism entrepreneurs have reasons to raise a toast as, despite all odds in the month of March, tourist arrivals by air to Nepal witnessed an upsurge by 33.5 per cent compared to the same month last year.

However, its a distinct fall from the whopping 62 per cent growth witnessed in February. Market observers, on the other hand, consider the growth an encouraging trend.

According to the figures provided by the Immigration Office, Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), a total of 34,122 international visitors entered Nepal last month, which comprised 20 per cent Indians and 80 per cent non-Indians, states a press release issued here by Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) today.

“The Indian market is quite unpredictable,” pointed out an official with the research wing of NTB. “It suddenly picks up or drops drastically, probably because Indians are more clued in to the daily happenings in Nepal.” This time the Indian visitors’ arrival dropped by 5.3 per cent.

Meanwhile according to NTB figures, within the SAARC segment, arrivals from Bangladesh jumped up by 74.8 per cent, while in the other Asian segment towering growth came from Malaysia registering 136.4 per cent growth, China 121.8 per cent, followed by South Korea at 98 per cent growth.

The Japanese arrivals also grew comfortably by 31.9 per cent along with RoC Taiwan 34.3 per cent even though Singaporean arrivals fell down by 16.4 per cent.

The high pace of growth in sectors like China, Malaysia and South Korea is clearly being attributed to the improved air connectivity with Nepal.

“The China South West Airlines which started its operations recently connecting Chengdu with Kathmandu as well as Korean Air, which directly connects Seoul with Kathmandu has helped in bringing in planeloads of tourists from these regions,” according to the NTB official.

Both these airlines, he claimed, had also helped in bringing in more Japanese visitors as flying via Chengdu or Shanghai route was easier for them than flying via Bangkok or Delhi as it saved flight time. Moreover, GMG has contributed in fetching more tourists from Bangladesh.

As far as the long haul markets are concerned, high growth was observed from European markets, which grew by 58.2 per cent on an average, followed by America, which increased by about 36.9 per cent and Australia by 32.2 per cent.

“This encouraging increment in arrivals from the US and European market attests a renewed interest in Nepal as a unique holiday destination, states the NTB press release.