Nepal moved up ten spots to the 102nd position in terms of travel and tourism competitiveness, largely due to the purchasing power parity of tourists becoming a key factor in attracting tourists, according to the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness 2015 report.
But big worries remain whether Nepal will be on the world tourism map after the Great Earthquake that has destroyed most of the tourism infrastructure, including major heritage sites, which are the major tourism draw.
The report published biennially by the Swiss-based World Economic Forum ranked Nepal 7th in terms of the purchasing power parity, among 141 counties surveyed.
With the exchange rate going in favour of foreign visitors, tourists get Rs 100 for $1 and the stronger US dollar has made Nepal one of the cheapest destinations for travelers.
Backed by the strength of increased tourists’ purchasing power, or devaluation of Nepali currency against the US dolor, the global report has ranked Nepal 23rd in terms of the price competitiveness destination.
In terms of the travel and tourism competitiveness in the South Asia, Nepal trails behind India (52nd), Bhutan (87th), but ahead of Pakistan (125th) and Bangladesh (127th), according to the report.
Suman Pandey, president of the Pacific Asia Travel Association’s (Pata) Nepal Chapter, said due to growing investment in the country’s tourism industry and enhanced service levels, Nepal’s competitive ranking has improved significantly for the last couple of years.
Pandey said tourism is among the worst hit areas by the current disaster that throws both opportunities and challenges. “The tourism recovery will not be far if there is government commitment to address the sector in a more practical way.”
Nepal is ranked 29th among the 141 countries in terms of the number of World Heritage natural sites, 16th position in terms of the Natural tourism digital demand and 25 in natural resources. But branding of these products has not been so effective. Nepal’s effective marketing to attract tourists also stands poor at 78th in the global ranking.
The government has not accorded priority for the development of tourism. The report said the government’s priority to Nepal’s travel and tourism stands 51st in the world.
In 2013, Nepal was ranked 52nd in terms of the government’s prioritisation of the travel and tourism industry. Safety and security of tourists has also been a matter of concern. The report ranked Nepal 113th in terms of security.
The worse part is the quality of air infrastructure is deteriorating by the year. In 2013, the country’s air transport infrastructure was ranked at 121st and within two years, the quality of air transport infrastructure dropped to 128th position.
In terms of the quality of roads, Nepal is ranked 115th, while in terms of tourist service infrastructure it is ranked 118th.
The report said the country is not open when it comes to the openness of bilateral Air Service Agreements.
Nepal’s travel and tourism industry generated 503,800 jobs and its contribution to the country’s GDP stood $738 million annually, the report said.
The top five performers in the Asia-Pacific are: Australia (7th), Japan (9th), Singapore (11th), Hong Kong (13th) and New Zealand (16th).
However, the most significant growth in international arrivals is observed in South-East Asia, thanks in part to its region’s price competitiveness and the rapid expansion of its middle class.