Nepal’s Tourism sector has been one of the country’s largest revenue contributors. Sadly, the sector’s income has dipped in the last one year from NPR 67.09 billion in FY 2017-18 to NPR 47.58 billion in FY 2018-19
According to the Economic Survey FY 2018-19 unveiled on May 27, 2019, the per capita spending and average length of stay of foreign tourists dipped further in 2018.
The survey published by the Ministry of Finance shows that the length of stay of foreign tourists was 12.4 days on an average until mid-March 2018, compared to 12.6 days of the same period last year.
The average daily spending also decreased to USD 44 compared to USD 54 in 2017.
The decrease in both aspects have caused economists to worry, despite the rise in a number of tourists.
Industry stakeholders have identified a lack of qualitative infrastructure and pollution as majors factors that affect the length of stay and foreign tourists spending.
“Polluted and incomplete roads, and poor road network is one of the major reasons behind low average stay of foreign tourists,” said Binayak Shah, First Vice-President, Hotel Association of Nepal (HAN).
Shah also opines that the government needs to shift its focus from promoting tourism in Chitwan, Kathmandu Valley, Pokhara, and Lumbini, alone. He also pointed out at poor connectivity, which majorly hampers Nepal’s tourism.
The HAN First Vice-President said expensive tickets, on account of Jet Airways closure, can also affect Nepal’s aim of welcoming two million tourists in 2020.
“It is time we look beyond 2020 now,” said Shah, while adding that the should also set long-term sustainability goals.
Experts said that the government should focus on quality rather than quantity in tourism. South Asia Watch Chairman Posh Raj Pandey said Nepal should concentrate on bringing quality tourists rather than focusing on numbers.
“We can learn from Bhutan. As the tariff for tourist is high there, only high-end tourists can afford to visit the country. Nepal should also promote high-end tourism,” he said.
Pandey added that the government should realign its focus to starting campaigns such as ‘Agriculture Year’ and ‘Industry and Manufacturing Year’ as they contribute to the Nepali economy more than the tourism sector.