April 10: Tourism industry, one of the mainstays of Nepal's economy, is gradually returning to normalcy after being battered by COVID-19 pandemic for nearly two years.
This spring season witnessed considerable number of foreign tourists arriving in Nepal. A total of 42,006 tourists arrived here from air route in March alone.
Last year, during the same period, 14,977 foreign tourists had visited Nepal. According to the statistics of the Department of Tourism, Nepal has welcomed 78,747 foreign tourists since January this year till March end.
The government has formed a Tourism Revival Steering Committee under the chairmanship of the Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation which is mandated to undertake initiatives for the revival of the tourism industry by exploring new possibilities, identifying new avenues, promoting the tourism industry and creating enabling investment environment in the tourism sector among others.
Towards this end, the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) has been organizing Travel Marts in all seven provinces. The Fewa Festival is going to be held from April 13-14. A team of foreign chefs led by Master Chef UK contest winner Santosh Shah will reach various destinations for 10 days and participate in promotional events with special focus on culinary tourism.
Mahesh Phuyal, general-manager of Ramada Encore, a 4-star hotel in Thamel, Kathmandu said that Ramada had 70 per cent occupancy of late. Mostly, American, India and European tourists book the 90-room hotel, shared Phuyal.
The inflow of foreign tourists has excited tourism entrepreneurs in Pokhara, one of the popular tourist destinations in the country. Bharatra Parajuli, a local entrepreneur, said that the tourism entrepreneurs like him were upbeat due to increasing number of tourism activities in Pokhara.
He said that development and promotion of adventurous tourism destinations in and around Pokhara, famed for lakes and natural landscapes, has helped boost the country's tourism.
Similarly, Hotel Association of Nepal (HAN)'s Acting President Binayak Shah shared that the hotels in Pokhara were receiving many inquiries lately. He opined that tourism was gradually reviving in Nepal after two years of pandemic-induced crisis.
Likewise, Trekking Agencies' Association of Nepal (TAAN)'s former vice-president Nilhari Bastola suggested that in order to revive tourism in Nepal, the government of Nepal needs to spread the message that Nepal is ready and open for tourist and this could be done through foreign ambassadors and consuls stationed in Nepal.
He further recommended the government to devise attractive packages such as free visa for a month among others to bolster the influx of foreign tourists.
NTB's CEO Dr Dhananjay Regmi informed that the number of tourists from India and Bangladesh had increased significantly as the board had conducted targeted promotional events in these countries.
Echoing with Shah, Regmi said that tourism in Nepal which was plagued by COVID-19 was slowly clawing back to normalcy. He called for the need to facilitate Indian tourists arriving in Nepal via road ways through various border points. -- RSS