Tourism sector witnesses mixed year

Kathmandu, January 8:

The year 2006 registered a growth of 2.3 per cent in air arrivals of international visitors to Nepal as compared to 2005.

According to a press release issued by the Nepal Tourism Board, 2006 proved to be a year of mixed performance wherein arrivals were positive in the first quarter (18.7 per cent) while second and the third quarter went down by 0.1per cent and 5.2 per cent.

However, arrivals in the last quarter recorded a positive growth especially since the month of November onwards. By the year end, both Indian and non-Indian market segments recorded positive growths despite their varying performances during the year.

According to the figures released by the ministry of culture, tourism and civil aviation quoting the Immigration Office at Tribhuvan International Airport, December 2006 registered a marginal growth of 0.4 per cent in the arrival of international visitors to Nepal by the air route.

While visitors arriving from Europe, US and other non-Indian Asian tourist generating countries recorded a growth of 6.1 per cent, Indian arrivals fell by 8.3 per cent during the month. The key contributors to the arrivals from Asia were Japan, China and South Korea which showed an exceptional growth during December with gains of 36.4 per cent, 7.2 per cent and 70.7 per cent respectively. The South East Asian markets Singapore (-42.6 per cent), Malaysia (-30.2 per cent) and Thailand (-30.2 per cent), however showed a decline.

The European markets too recorded an encouraging growth of 12.2 per cent during the month with arrival numbers increasing from almost all the markets excepting a few. Growth was observed from UK (5.5 per cent), Germany (21.3 per cent), France (25.6 per cent), Italy (33.7 per cent) and Spain (41.9 per cent). The Dutch arrivals too increased by two per cent, along with arrivals from Nordic countries. The only markets to come down were Austria (-9.4 per cent), Belgium (-14.7 per cent) and Switzerland (-34 per cent). The Americans too registered a growth of 10.6 per cent while Australian arrivals went up by 2.7 per cent.

The total non-Indian visitors, which contributed 64 per cent share in the total December arrivals registering a 6.1 per cent growth indicates the growing consumer confidence and interest towards Nepal from the long haul markets, claimed release.

With the arrival of four major airlines (GMG Bangladesh, Air Arabia, Korean Air and expansion of Air China) as well as the announcement of the arrival of China Southern, the over all demand for Nepali tourism has been increasing rapidly, maintained the statement.

Keeping in mind these developments, 2007 should be a promising year for Nepali tourism, it added.