Tourist arrivals bounce back

Kathmandu, March 4:

The positive beginning of New Year 2007 for Nepali tourism continued for the second month with a record growth in international visitor arrivals for the month of February 2007.

Total tourist arrivals via air posted a handsome growth of 62.6 per cent during the month compared to the corresponding period last year. Nepal had witnessed a growth in international visitor arrivals by 5.8 per cent in January.

The month’s growth was contributed by both Indian and third-country markets with a significant improvement in arrivals from China, Japan, USA and UK, according to the ministry of culture, tourism and civil aviation, quoting figures from Immigration Office at the Tribhuvan International Airport.

All major markets bounced back with a hefty growth and total arrivals stood at 25,656 tourists during the month against 15,776 visitors in the same month last year.

The arrivals from India registered a huge increment of 54.8 per cent to 6,801 tourists, while third country arrivals saw a dazzling growth of 65.6 per cent to 18,855 visitors. The Indian arrival had registered 4,393 and the third country arrivals limited at 11,383 during the same period last year.

All SAARC countries including Bangladesh (60.5 per cent), Pakistan (115.3 per cent) and Sri Lanka (261 per cent) posted sound growths.

Arrivals from China made a u-turn to register a growth of 281.6 per cent to 1,988 tourists from 521 visitors last year. The Chinese arrival had gone down by 40.2 per cent last month.

Among the Asian markets, Japanese arrivals posted a sound growth of 59.5 per cent with 2,388 tourists visiting Nepal. Huge growths from South Korea by 88.7 per cent and Thailand by 110 per cent clearly reflect the growing confidence towards Nepal as a tourist destination. A total of 1261 South Koreans and 422 Thai tourists visited Nepal during the month.

Increase in Chinese and South Korean arrivals are attributed to contribution by the operation of China Southern Airlines (CSA) and Korean Air. CSA began Nepal flights since February this

year, while the Korean Air launched its operation since November last year.

The European segment also registered a strong growth with arrivals from key markets like France recording a growth of 68.5 per cent, Germany at 23.4 per cent, UK at 85.3 per cent and Italy at 26.1 per cent. The arrivals from the Scandinavian countries also saw a significant rise including Norway at 116.2 per cent, Denmark at 110.7 and Sweden at 130.2 per cent.

Among long haul markets, Canada saw a rise of 45.9 per cent with 356 tourists arriving during the month, while US arrivals gained by 53.1 per cent to 1,663 tourists. Australian arrivals shot up by 35.2 per cent.

Industry insiders say that increase both in the regional and international markets speak of the growing consumer confidence of travellers towards Nepal as a safe and attractive destination.