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Tourist arrivals in Nepal fall for first time in 3 years

Publication Date : 02-11-2012


Nepal witnessed a negative growth in monthly tourist arrivals for the first time since June 2009. Arrivals via air dropped 7.3 per cent to 67,901 in October, the peak tourist season, according to the monthly tourist arrival figures released by the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB).

The unexpected drop in arrivals has been attributed to a substantial decline in the number of visitors from European and South Asian market segments.

The number of tourists from the South Asian and European markets dropped notably by 28.5 per cent and 17.5 per cent, respectively, in October. The South Asian market holds over 33 per cent share in arrivals, followed by the European market (nearly 30 per cent).

NTB said the decrease in arrivals reflects the volatile nature of international tourists’ movement. The board, entrusted with the job of promoting Nepal in the global arena, said the global economic downturn checked the travelling spirit of international visitors.

NTB and travel trade entrepreneurs highlighted three factors — recession in Europe, lack promotion in the international markets and non-tourist season for Indian travellers — which contributed to the negative growth in the number of inbound travellers this October. “This year, there has been a nominal promotion of Nepal’s tourism in international markets,” said Aditya Baral, spokesperson for NTB.

According to Baral, the decline in the number of Indian travellers was due to non-tourist season for Indian travellers as the October-November travel packages become costlier for Indian visitors. Arrivals from India, a major source market for Nepal, dropped by 30.1 per cent.

As far as the European segment is concerned, arrivals from the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Russia declined by 9.3 per cent, 5.3 per cent, 19.2 per cent, 23.2 per cent, 27.6 per cent, 22.5 per cent, and 18.5 per cent, respectively, compared to the same month last year.

Ashok Pokhrel, president of the Nepal Association of Tour Operators (NATO), also attributed the European debt crisis for the decline in arrivals from the region.

Another major factor responsible for the downfall in the number of European tourists was Nepal’s focus on short- and medium-haul market segments, Pokhrel said. “If you see the current scenario, hotels, resorts and even lodges in all tourist destinations have been fully booked by visitors from short- and medium-haul sectors. And, they have replaced visitors from long-haul destinations,” Pokhrel added.

Hoteliers also admitted that tourists from short- and medium-haul sectors have replaced visitors from long-haul destinations. “Particularly, a large number of visitors from the long-haul sector, who planned their trip in short period, were unable to get rooms here,” said Bharat Joshi, resident manager at Hotel Yak & Yeti.

Hoteliers, however, said a significant growth in the number of visitors from the US and China neutralised the negative growth in the number of holidaymakers from European destinations. “We have witnessed a significant decline in the number of visitors for leisure activities this year,” Joshi said, adding the number of visitors from Greece, Turkey, Spain, and Italy was ‘very nominal’ this year. “We mostly lost German customers this October,” Joshi said.

Despite the drop in arrivals in October, the overall growth in the first 10 months of 2012 has been satisfactory. In aggregate, between January and October, tourist arrivals growth remained at 11.5 per cent compared to same period last year.


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