Tourist arrivals increase

Kathmandu, October 3:

The encouraging trend of international tourist arrivals to Nepal continued for yet another month, as the month of September witnessed a growth of 27 per cent in comparison to the same month last year.

The total tourist arrivals by air touched 32,331 in September, which is an increment by 26.9 per cent from 25,484 visitors of the same period last year, Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) reported quoting data released by Immigration Office at Tribhuvan International Airport. “It means 6,847 more tourists came to Nepal during September compared to the corresponding month last year,” the release stated.

The American and European markets contributed hugely to this healthy rise with a robust growth of 38.5 per cent and 33.1 per cent respectively, followed by a significant growth in major tourist generating markets. A total of 2,706 tourists came from the American markets, while the 11,819 European visitors visited Nepal.

Overall, the positive growth in visitors’ arrival from UK (32.1 per cent), Germany (25.2 per cent), France (18.6 per cent), Italy (33.6 per cent), Spain (49.1 per cent), Japan (29 per cent) and USA (38.9 per cent) indicates a rebound in tourism industry and growing confidence towards Nepal as an alluring tourist destination.

Moreover, Chinese and Korean markets also posted a sound growth, as arrivals from these two promising markets went up by 158.8 per cent and 98.4 per cent respectively. Arrivals have been strengthened considerably after the operation of direct flights from these destinations. Korean Air flies on Kathmandu-Seoul-Kathmandu route, while China Southern Ai-rlines connects Guangzhou and Kathmandu, and Air China co-nnects Lhasa wirh Kathmandu.

Dragon Air is all set to resume its Nepal operations from Dece-mber connecting another major Chinese tourist generating market of Hong Kong. The ope-rations is expected to bring in more tourists, as it will provide better connectivity for Chinese as well as long haul visitors.

If this growth trend continues for few more more months, the total tourist arrivals to Nepal via air is sure to cross the past records. Nepali tourism fraternity expects that the arrivals in the coming months will grow, as the peak season is around the corner.

However, they fear the political instability — particularly the announcement of protests by CPN-Maoists — may send negative message to the international arena, resulting in deferment or cancellation of trips to Nepal.

Nepal Tour Operators Association (NATO) asked all the political parties and agitating groups to call off their protests programmes and strikes during the tourist season.

The total arrivals in the last nine months has gone up by 32.3 per cent having 252,407 visitors arrived air, compared to 190,796 arrivals last year.

As Indian market is very sensitive to negative news, the figure from India has registered a negative growth. The arrivals from India dropped by 4.4 per cent to 6,784 visitors during September against 7,098 arrivals last year.

One of the reasons for decline in Indian tourists is lack of air seats, as most of the seats

are now being filled by European visitors coming to Nepal via India. Another major reason is irregular service of Nepal Airlines, the national flag-carrier.