Tourist arrivals rise by 46pc

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, May 4:

Tourists arriving to Nepal via air continue to grow in April despite the ongoing political chaos.

As a result, total tourist arrivals in April recorded yet another robust growth of 46 per cent in comparison to the same period last year. This is the fourth consecutive month that the tourist arrivals registered growth. According to the department of immigration, a total of 30,402 visitors arrived to Nepal during April, against the arrival of 20,799 tourists in April,2003.

A healthy contribution of 49 per cent amongst third country arrival and 39 per cent amongst Indian visitors has resulted in the overall increment during the period.

A very positive note for the month was an increment in arrival from almost all the leading markets to Nepal, states a press note issued by the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB). During the month, the Indian tourist arrivals continued its double-digit growth followed by other Asian countries like Bangladesh, Japan, China, Taiwan, Israel and Sri Lanka.

The Asian markets have also enhanced their market share to almost 45 per cent in April.

The major long-haul markets like Germany, UK, France and Australia performed positively for the month. Arrivals from UK went up by seven per cent, USA by 31 per cent, and German by 19 per cent. The French, Italian and the Dutch tourist arrivals also grew remarkably by 61 per cent, 76 per cent, and 50 per cent respectively.

However, the political crisis and a series of bandhs and strikes badly affected the possibility of additional growth in April. The political chaos led to series of cancellations and shortening of trips by visitors willing to visit Nepal. A study conducted by NTB among 65 tourist service providers including travel agents, hotels, lodges and trekking agents within Kathmandu valley shows that one day strike leads to an average of 60 per cent reservation cancellations. The survey also indicated that the five-star hotels of Kathmandu showed an average of 60 per cent occupancy in April, while the lodges seemed to have higher occupancy rate, the hotels from four to two-star category had the occupancy of 38 per cent for the month.

NTB further states that reductions in incoming flights in April have also led to the decline in tourist arrivals. Royal Nepal Airlines re-scheduled its flights due to lack of aircraft during the month. Commenting on the arrival figures and study findings, Tek Bahadur Dangi, chief executive officer of NTB said that the tourist arrivals growth would have increased further by 20 to 30 per cent in April, if there had had peace and no more bandhs. He said that compared to 1999 figures the tourist arrivals in April is still down by 15 per cent. The total tourist arrivals in April via air in 1999 was 35,818.