KATHMANDU, April 16: According to the Department of Immigration (DoI), a total of 217,000 foreign tourists entered Nepal via aerial route in the review period of 2018.
Nepal welcomed 57,557 foreign tourists via air in January this year, while arrival figures in February and March were 66,185 and 93,258, respectively.
Similarly, a total of 69,866 tourists entered Nepal via land route. According to DoI, Nepal welcomed 15,632 tourists in January, 22,806 in February and 31,428 in March via land route.
Number of tourists from China via air was higher than India in the first quarter of the 2018. According to DoI, Nepal received 36,384 tourists from the northern neighbor in the review period while tourist arrival from India in the first three months of 2018 was 34,133.
Nepal had welcomed 29,684 tourists from China (via air) in the first three months of 2017.
As China and India are among the fastest growing tourism markets in the world, Nepal has been prioritizing these markets in recent years. Private enterprises are also sparing no effort to bring more tourists from these countries.
Talking to Republica, Binayak Shah, general secretary of Hotel Association Nepal (HAN), said overall trend in tourist arrival over the past year has been encouraging for the tourism sector. “Several promotional activities have been launching focusing China and India. This has resulted into healthy growth in the number of tourists from China,” he said, adding that he was hopeful that arrivals from India will also pick up in the coming days.
Sarad Pradhan, media consultant of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), said this is the first time that number of tourists from China has surpassed Indian arrivals. “Several efforts of the government and the private sector have finally paid dividends,” he said, adding: “Frequent media FAM trips, improving air connectivity and the recent Chinese New Year, which sees huge outbound movement every year, are the major reasons behind healthy growth in Chinese tourist numbers.”
Pradhan expects the tourist numbers to grow further in the remaining months of 2018.
Shah of HAN believes that number of Indian tourists will increase in the coming months. “As Indians will have holiday in the coming months, arrivals from the southern neighbor will increasing in the coming months,” he added.
Shah also said that he was hopeful that the target of welcoming 1.5 million tourists by 2020 can be achieved easily if growth from China and India continues further.