Published On: February 1, 2023 08:52 PM NPT By: SANTOSH POKHAREL
POKHARA, Feb 1: Air accidents in Nepal have recently slowed down the tourism business during the off-season. According to tourism entrepreneurs, after the fatal air crash on January 15, many foreign guests started canceling their bookings. However, the Nepal Tourism Board has said that there has been a significant improvement in the number of foreign visitors entering Nepal in the off-season as well.
According to the board, the tourism industry that was hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic has finally returned back o n track with the arrival of an encouraging number of tourists even during the off-season. According to the director of the board, Mani Lamichhane, 55,074 foreign tourists entered Nepal in January 2023. All those visitors arrived by air. The number of arrivals in the previous month (December 2022) was 67,932.
“In fact, this is an off-season for tourism. However, the number of foreign tourists entering Nepal in January has shown a good sign,” Lamichhane said, adding, “Although the plane crash has affected the number of arrivals in January, the arrival of tourists in January is relatively better.”
According to the board, the number of tourists visiting Nepal in January 2019 before the onset of COVID-19 was 81,273. That figure dropped to 79,702 in 2020. In January 2020, the impact of COVID-19 was not that severe, but the arrival of tourists that month was greatly affected. However, in January 2021, only 8,874 foreigners entered Nepal. In January 2022, a total of 16,436 foreigners came to Nepal.
“The arrival of tourists in the off-season isn’t that bad. In the previous two years, only a small number of foreign guests arrived," said Lamichhane, adding, "But this year, there has been some enthusiasm in the arrival in the first month. If there are no more obstacles in the coming days, tourists will arrive in greater numbers."
Businessmen have been saying that although China has lifted the restrictions on its citizens to travel to some countries, it has not yet been opened for Nepal. According to them, the decline in the number of Chinese tourists has affected the tourism sector.
According to the data of the board, the highest number of tourists arrived from India in January. In the month of January, 16,436 visitors from India entered Nepal. Similarly, the second highest is from America with 6,561 visitors and Australia in third place with 3,441 guests. According to Lamichhane, director of the board, the fourth highest number of guests was from Bangladesh with 2,468 visitors. All those tourists entered Nepal via the air route.
Tourism entrepreneurs also say that if they can bring Chinese tourists to Nepal, the number of tourists will significantly increase. Former chairman of Pokhara Tourism Council (PTCC) Gopi Bahadur Bhattarai says that if the arrival of Chinese tourists improves, the tourism sector will get much relief.
“Neighboring China has allowed its citizens to travel to other countries. However, it has not yet lifted the travel restriction to Nepal. If China sends tourists to Nepal, it would provide relief to the businessmen," said Bhattarai.
Bhattarai also said that businessmen are preparing to do promotional activities in various countries due to the decline in tourist arrivals following the recent air accidents.
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