Post-COVID rebound sees tourist numbers soaring in Nepal

Published On: June 2, 2023 10:00 AM NPT By: Sajira Shrestha

KATHMANDU, June 2: Nepal has witnessed an encouraging arrival of 77,703 foreign tourists in May of 2023. This means that the arrival rate of foreign tourists has increased by 44.9 percent in May 2023 as compared to the corresponding period of last year. The number of tourists arriving here was 53,608 in the corresponding period of last year. 

According to data released by Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), 78,329 international visitors came to Nepal in May 2019. The government data states that more than 1.19 million foreign tourists entered Nepal in 2019. This is the largest number of foreign tourists entering Nepal so far.

In May 2023, the highest number of foreign visitors came from India. A total of 36,575 Indian visitors entered Nepal in the review month. The number of American tourists in the month of May was 8,545. The number of visitors from China was 4,667.

Similarly, the number of tourists arriving in Nepal from the UK was 2927 and Australia was 2,184. Likewise, 2,164 tourists came from Bangladesh, 1,321 from Malaysia, 1,165 from Germany, 1,097 from France and 1,039 from South Korea.

 “There has been an improvement in the arrival of tourists every month. This number has made tourism entrepreneurs more optimistic about the tourism industries,” said NTB Spokesperson Mani Raj Lamichhane. He also claimed that there is no need to doubt that Nepal will successfully complete the government’s target of welcoming one million foreign tourists in 2023 as the number of visitors will continue to increase.

Similarly, the World Tourism Organization has also projected the revival of Nepal’s tourism sector in 2023. The organization had projected global tourism including Nepal’s to recover by up to 95 percent.

The increase in tourism activities in Nepal can be attributed to multiple factors, including Nepal's improved connectivity to the world and the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions. Recently, the government had removed the requirement of mandatory negative PCR test reports and COVID-19 vaccination certificate for international air travelers visiting Nepal.

Achyut Guragain, immediate past president of Nepal Association of Tour and Travel Agents (NATTA) claimed that the increasing number of tourists is the result of continuous promotion of tourism from the private sector and Nepal Tourism Board. “The private sector and Nepal Tourism Board has continuously promoted Nepal as a tourist destination after COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the number of tourists is gradually increasing, equaling the post pandemic period,” he said.   

Guragain also mentioned that if the number of tourists arriving can be increased by about 50 percent more than that of 2019 till the year 2025, then tourism business can flourish well in the future. “Earlier, CNN had picked Mustang Valley as a must-visit destination in 2023. This also has had a positive impact in our tourism industry. Therefore, both the government and private sector have to promote Nepal domestically and internationally,” he said.

In the first five months of 2023, more than 400,000 foreign tourists have entered Nepal by air. According to data from NTB, 55,074 tourists came in January, 73,255 in February, 99,426 in March, 98,773 in April and 77,703 foreign guests entered in May. A total of 404,231 foreign guests have arrived in Nepal so far this year. 

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