Nepal’s tourist numbers expected to drop due to unstable political situation


KATHMANDU, Nepal – Due to the unstable political situation‚ traditional marketing plans‚ and lack of proper strategy‚ tourism entrepreneurs have said that 2013 might observe a fall in total tourist arrivals.

Though the length of stay increased to 13 days in 2012‚ tourism entrepreneurs have claimed that due to lack of any initiative this year‚ tourist arrivals and the length of stay may decrease. However‚ the government expects the length of stay to increase to 14 days in the coming years.

“It has been quite some time since the government introduced any new strategy to boost the tourism industry‚” said president of Hotel Association Nepal Shyam Sundar Lal Kakshapati. According to him‚ Visit Nepal Year 1998 was the last remarkable initiative taken to promote tourism‚ which was followed by the Nepal Tourism Year campaign in 2011.

With the sudden fall in tourist arrivals in the first month of 2013‚ tourism entrepreneurs have said that there is now a need to bring new marketing plans and a new strategy that should focus on both the international and domestic markets.

January observed a decline of 15.9 per cent in total tourist arrivals as compared to the same month last year‚ a situation observed for the first time in the last three and a half years. Major source markets recorded negative growths in tourist arrivals in January.

“The length of stay which had been increasing gradually might fall this year as the hotel sector this month has observed an unexpected number of booking cancellations‚” said Kakshapati. “We are hoping it won’t happen in the coming months‚” he said.

“Due to the political situation of the country and the economic slowdown in European countries‚ there has been a lower number of bookings‚” he said.

According to tourism entrepreneurs‚ Nepal Tourism Board should develop a new tourism market.

Participation in trade fairs and appointment of marketing agents are insufficient‚ they said. “We have not been able to capitalise on the potential

of our neighbouring market‚ China‚ which has millions of outbound tourists‚” said Kakshapati.

The government has also prepared a three-year tourism plan which is designed to increase economic growth and investment of private sector. The strategy is expected to be implemented from 2013-14 to 2015-16‚ and has a target to create 300‚000 direct jobs‚ but lack of new products to offer to the tourists and promotion have affected the tourist arrivals in recent months.

According to the Ministry of Culture‚ Tourism and Civil Aviation‚ there is a plan to carry out special promotional campaigns to attract tourists from China and India‚ and to start promotional activities in the BRIC economies — Brazil‚ Russia‚ India and China.