KATHMANDU, APRIL 9
Tourism - one of the mainstays of Nepal's economy - is gradually gaining normalcy after being battered by the COVID-19 pandemic for nearly two years.
This spring season witnessed a considerable number of foreign tourists arriving in Nepal with a total of 42,006 tourists coming via air route in March alone.
Last year, 14,977 foreign tourists had visited Nepal during the same period. According to statistics of the Department of Tourism, Nepal has received a total of 78,747 foreign tourists from January to March end this year.
The government has formed a Tourism Revival Steering Committee under the chairmanship of the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Civil Aviation, which is tasked with taking initiatives to revive the tourism industry by exploring new possibilities, identifying and promoting tourism industry and creating enabling investment climate in the tourism sector, among others.
The Nepal Tourism Board has been organising Travel Mart in all the seven provinces.
Fewa Festival is going to be held on April 13 and 14. A team of foreign chefs led by MasterChef UK contest winner Santosh Shah will reach various destinations for 10 days and participate in tourism promotional events with special focus on culinary tourism.
Mahesh Phuyal, general-manager of Ramada Encore, a 4-star hotel in Thamel, Kathmandu, said the hotel had 70 per cent occupancy lately.
"The hotel comprising 90-rooms mostly has American, Indian and European tourists," he shared.
The inflow of foreign tourists has enthused tourism entrepreneurs in Pokhara, one of the popular tourist destinations in the country.
Bharatra Parajuli, a local entrepreneur, said tourism entrepreneurs like him were upbeat due to the increasing number of tourism activities in Pokhara. He said development and promotion of adventure tourism destinations in and around Pokhara, famed for lakes and natural landscapes, had helped boost the country's tourism.
Similarly, Hotel Association of Nepal's Acting President Binayak Shah shared that the hotels in Pokhara were receiving so many inquiries lately. He opined that tourism had been gradually reviving in Nepal after two years of pandemic-induced crisis.
Likewise, Trekking Agencies' Association of Nepal former vice-president Nilhari Bastola has suggested that the government of Nepal spread the message that Nepal is ready and open to tourists, to revive tourism in Nepal. According to him, this can be done through foreign ambassadors and consuls stationed in Nepal.
He further recommended that the government devise attractive packages such as free visa for a month, among others, to bolster the influx of foreign tourists.
NTB's CEO Dr Dhananjay Regmi informed that the number of tourists from India and Bangladesh had increased significantly as the Board had conducted targeted promotional events in these countries.
Echoing Shah, Regmi said tourism in Nepal, which was plagued by COVID-19 was slowly coming back into normalcy.
He stressed the need to facilitate Indian tourists arriving Nepal by roadways through various border points.
A version of this article appears in the print on April 10, 2022, of The Himalayan Times.