KATHMANDU, July 28: After facing many ups and downs in the past couple of years, foreign tourist arrivals recorded a healthy growth of 28 percent in the first half of 2017.
According to the Department of Immigration, Nepal welcomed a total of 460,304 foreign tourists via air in the first six months of 2017, compared to 359,672 in the first half of 2016.
India was the largest tourism market for Nepal in the review period, as Nepal welcomed 93,049 tourists from the southern neighbor in the first six months of 2017. A total of 64,842 Indian tourists had visited Nepal in the first half of 2016. Similarly, arrivals from China improved to 54,090 in the first half of 2017, compared to 39,609 in the same period of 2016.
Nepal welcomed 41,691 tourists from USA, 19,729 from Sri Lanka and 27,444 tourists from the United Kingdom in the first half of 2017. In the same period last year, the country had received 33,032 tourists from USA, 18,463 from Sri Lanka and 22,397 from the United Kingdom.
Arrivals from Thailand (22,045), Myanmar (10,717), Republic of Korea (17,488) and Australia (15,514) also improved in the first half of 2017.
According to the office, March received the largest number of tourists (106,291). In the same month last year, a total of 74,494 tourists had visited the country.
Tourist arrivals had fallen significantly in 2015 due to impacts of earthquakes as well as the unofficial Indian blockade. Though tourist arrival increased from 2006 till 2011, it had started falling after 2012. The trend continued until 2015.
Durga Dutta Dhakal, the information officer of the Department of Tourism, said Nepal is on track to record healthy growth in 2017. “Compared to previous years, tourist footfall has remained encouraging so far this year. Arrival fell due to impacts of earthquake and blockade in the past couple of years. However, it has posted healthy growth in the first half of 2017,” he added. “Tourism promotional initiatives taken in recent years have played a great role in bringing more tourists to the country.”
Dhakal, however, said that the existing growth rate will not be sufficient to meet the target of bringing two million tourists by 2020. “The growth rate is appreciable. However, we need to post more aggressive growth if we are to meet the target,” he said, adding, “We need to promote aggressively in the international market and create conducive environment in the country.”