Tourists’ spending on the decline

Kathmandu, February 5:

Despite an increasing number of tourists in the month of January, spending by them is low, tourism entrepreneurs said. They criticised the method of the data compilation by Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), terming the comparison ‘wrong’.

Prabin Pandey, president of Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Nepal Chapter said that during 1999, the number of tourists visiting Nepal stood at about half a million but after that tourists’ number is decreasing annually. “If we compare the number of tourists visiting Nepal in 1999 and in 2005, the number has gone down heavily,” says Pandey.

During the month of 1999 January, 20,564 tourists visited Nepal by air. Tourists’ turnout in the month of 1999 January is less than in the same month this year, which stands at 21807.

2006 January saw a rise in tourist number by 1303 in comparison to the same month in 1999. However, tourists arrival in the month of January 2006 is less by 3351 in comparison to the same month in 2001, as per the data compiled by NTB.

According to the data, even the tourists arrival to Nepal in the year 2005 has gone down to 2,50,000 in comparison to 2,66,000 during 2004. It shows that tourists arrival is decreasing.

However, tourists arrival as per the data provided by NTB has gone up by 14.5 per cent in January this year in comparison to same month in 2005. However, the average tourist spending is decreasing continuously.

“Tourists from Taiwan, Malaysian and India are increasing in number,” Pandey said, “What is pathetic for the country is that average spending of a tourist per night in India stands at $300 but it goes down to $40 in case of Nepal,” said Pandey.

Yogendra Shakya, former president of Hotel Association Nepal (HAN) who owns Club Himalaya, Nagarkot, agreed on the quality of tourists visiting Nepal. “Despite Nepal being a cheap destination, foreign tourists visiting Nepal are efficient in ‘bargaining’ than the domestic tourists,” he said.

Basant Mishra, president of Nepal Association of Tour Operators (NATO) also agreed that the tourists’ stay and spending, both is decreasing in Nepal. “Tourists average spending is in decreasing,” he said, adding that year-on-year, the tourists arrival is also on the downward trend. He attributed the downward trend to ‘certain-media-people’, who are using tourism people for their vested interests in creating negative image of Nepal in the international market. He suggested for strong coordination and unity among the tourism entrepreneurs. “There is no meaning for ‘rate card’ in recent days for foreign tourists,” Shakya said, “a foreign tourist pays $100 in India but the same tourist wants a room at $10 in Nepal. However, being a cheap destination, it is a golden opportunity for Nepal to capitalise MICE tourism potentials from India. Nepal is a better place for meetings and conventions.”

Dhrub Narayan Shrestha, president of Nepal Association of Travel and Tour Agents (NATTA) said that in such difficult situations, high spending tourists do not visit Nepal. He said that the increase in tourist arrivals is not discouraging, however, the need is for the high spending tourists for which ‘peace and stability’ are prerequisites. “It is an urgent need for Nepal for the image makeover rather than discussing on low or high spending tourists,” Shrestha added.