Proceeding the positive trend driven by the record tourist arrivals in 2017, Nepal started witnessing a further rise in the number of tourist arrivals in 2018.
Inching closer to the Visit Nepal 2020 landmark, Nepal Tourism Board registered a tourist arrival record of 1,173,072 arrivals between January-December 2018!
The Board projected a 17 percent increase compared to the same period in 2017.
Nepal Tourism witnessed a growth of 24 percent with 1,173,072 foreign tourists visiting Nepal in 2018 against 940,218 in the previous year!
Following are the statistics of tourists according to the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB):
Tourism stakeholders are happy with this achievement of reaching the magical number which has been sought after, since two decades.
“This was possible only because all of us worked hard. The coordination between government agencies, tourism entrepreneurs and media has helped us take tourism to the next step,” said NTB CEO Deepak Raj Joshi.
NTB has started a campaign Visit Nepal 2020 to draw two million tourists by 2020. However, the goal is seeing a lot of hurdles, the Pokhara international airport is one among them.
The Tourism Board believes that it will be easy to bring in tourists if a new international airport would be ready by 2020.
According to the Board, the tourism curve continued upward throughout the peak tourist season between October-November, 2018. Surprisingly, the increased tourist number during the period excludes overland international visitors.
If the tourist growth rate was calculated including tourists arrivals via land, then the figures would have jumped to 23 percent.
India topped the list of tourist arrivals in Nepal between January-November 2018 with a record 260,124 visitors, followed by Chinese tourists at 134,362 arrivals, Thailand, Japan and South Korea.
Beyond neighboring countries, Nepal also tourist arrivals from Europe, US and Australia with a healthy growth of 224,206, 82,870 and 33,528 tourists, respectively.
Nepal Tourism Board Chief Executive Officer Deepak Raj Joshi attributed Nepal’s reinforcement as one of the most preferred tourist destinations, to the country’s extraordinary visitor growth rate
“The growth can be attributed to concerted efforts of Government of Nepal, Nepal Tourism Board, private sector travel trade and media towards promotion of overall tourism sector in the international tourism arena,” said Joshi.
The tourism season has kicked off in Nepal with a 33.8 percent increase in September 2018!
Nepal experiences Autumn in the period between September- November, which is considered the ‘best time’ to visit the Himalayan Nation.
According to Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), 91, 820 foreigners visited Nepal in September 2018 alone.
Currently, the Nepal tourism industry is doing well going by the number of tourists who have visited the country since January 2018. NTB has recorded a total of 772, 798 foreigners, which has increased by 20 percent compared to the same period in 2017.
According to NTB statistics, following is the summarization of tourist arrivals by the country during the month of September 2018:
NTB Chief Executive Officer Deepak Raj Joshi credited the ‘rigorous promotional activity’ for the healthy growth of Nepal’s tourism sector.
Nepal earned Rs 67.09 billion from its tourism industry in FY 2017-18.
Witnessing an upward curve in the month of July, visitors to Nepal increased to 73.5 percent for the Jan-July period of 2018!
The magnificent increase is attributed to the rise in the number of tourists from countries like India, China, UK, and USA, according to Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) statistics.
“In addition to neighboring markets, the Asia Pacific region has seen rapid economic development in recent times. The positive growth in visitor arrivals from all major markets is highly encouraging and undoubtedly present significant opportunities to the travel and trade sector and to the entire country,” said Deepak Raj Joshi, CEO, NTB.
Although there are a number of reasons behind the increasing numbers, NTB has identified ‘promotional programs’ as one of the key reasons.
“Destination promotion, travel marts, sales missions, business to business (B2B) and business to consumers are the major programs that have been continuously organized in major source markets,” reads a press statement issued by the NTB.
Recent statistics by the Department of Tourism have shown a 9.6 percent rise in the number of tourists visiting Nepal in the month of May 2018, year-on-year.
When it comes to the overall 2018 tourist arrivals in Nepal, the first five months of the year saw a 12.5 percent year-on-year growth.
According to the department, a total of 68,825 foreign tourists visited Nepal during the month, with SAARC countries alone showing a 2.2 percent rise over the same month last year and Asia (other than SAARC) accounting to 14.2 percent rise.
Nepal saw 940,218 foreign tourists in 2017 with most of them coming from neighboring nations, followed by the US, Canada, Australia and Europe, among others.
The latest announcement comes as an encouragement to Nepal Tourism department, which is aiming at 2 million annual tourist arrival target by 2020.
Celebrating the growth in tourism activity, the Himalayan country is also planning to observe 2020 as the Visit Nepal Year.
In contrast to the rising tourist arrival trend, the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation statistics indicate a drop in the average duration of foreign tourists’ stay in Nepal in 2017, terming that as a seven-year low.
According to the department of tourism, 2017 saw a 6% drop in the duration of stay, year-on-year, missing the target of 14 days.
The average duration of stay was just 12.6 days in 2017, less than 13.4 days in 2016, 13.16 days in 2015, 12.44 in 2014, 12.60 in 2013, 12.16 in 2012, 13.12 in 2011 and 12.67 in 2010.
The department analyzed the length of stay of 400,000 tourists as part of the survey.
According to Bikram Pandey-Kaji, a campaigner for Buddhist circuit cross-border tourism, the rise in 4-5 day packages has contributed to decline in the duration of stay among foreign tourists.
“The data may change but the decline in the number is not so alarming,” he said. “The fluctuation in statistical calculation has occurred because of an increasing number of tourists visiting more than two places during one travel. So, they have a shorter stay in Nepal,” says Pandey.
“In 2017, the country was facing infrastructure issues, political changes, pollution and other obstacles. So, most of the tourists may have preferred to shorten their lengths of stay in Nepal,” Binayak Shah, General Secretary of Hotel Association Nepal (HAN).
“In any case, rather than the number of days, the amount they spend here matters more,” he adds. The average spending of a foreign tourist per day in Nepal increased to USD 54 in 2017 from USD 53 of the previous year.
Shah is hopeful that the things would get better gradually in 2018.