Tourist arrivals belie fears

Kathmandu, May 3 :

Despite the prolonged political upheavals in the country, tourist arrivals to Nepal via air during the month of April 2006, dropped by a mere 2.2 per cent compared to the same period last year.

A total of 18,465 tourists came into Nepal during the month against 18,879 tourists in April 2005. A huge plunge of 23.9 per cent in Indian visitors, who constitute about one third of the total tourist arrivals in the country, affected the overall figure.

The non-Indian arrivals increased by six per cent during the month, according to the ministry of culture, tourism and civil aviation. The overall tourist arrivals was up by over 35 per cent until the first half of the month, which helped maintain the month’s figure since the second half saw remarkably low arrivals owing to strikes and curfews in the country, says Tek Bahadur Dangi, CEO at Nepal Tourism Board.

Arrivals particularly from short haul markets like SAARC and South East Asia recorded a decline while the long haul market numbers remained almost unchanged. Arrivals from SAARC region went down by 26.6 per cent while other Asian markets also shown a decrease of 10.7 per cent. From among the European market, France and UK showed some growth and also emerged as two major contributors for visitor numbers last month as their

combined market share stood at almost 20 per cent. Markets to rise were Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, Israel and Sweden.

Negative growth came from Denmark, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Norway. Interestingly, arrivals from Australia and New Zealand both increased by 12 per cent and 44.5 per cent, while arrivals from USA and Canada went down by 15.2 per cent and 22.5 per cent, respectively. “It is indeed a strength of Nepali tourism industry that despite internal disturbances, tourist arrival has not dwindled. Now with peace and stability, brighter days for tourism are back again,” says Dangi.