Tourist arrival to Nepal by air touches an all-time high

As many as 412,446 tourists visited Nepal by air in the last 11 months, revealed a Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) data. This is the first instance that the country received such a huge number of tourists since 1999.

Annual figures in the last eleven years have never been as high. Around 421,243 tourists had visited Nepal by air in 1999. However, the total number of tourists by the end of November was only 387,747.

Although the year 1999 saw an all-time high number of air visitors, tourism entrepreneurs say the year 2010 will set yet another record surpassing the 1999 records. It means that at least 9,000 tourists must visit Nepal by air in December to overcome the 11-year-old record. Last December, the country had received 31,396 air tourists.

“We are expecting that tourists’ movement will set a new record this year,” said Aditya Baral, spokesperson for NTB. Arrivals by air in November reached 48,331, 21.5 percent more than that in the same month last year. Total number of air arrivals till November last year was 347, 316. According to NTB, in November, South Asian region posted a growth of 55.5 percent, with Bangladesh-80.7 percent, India-52.9 percent, Pakistan-6.6 percent and Sri Lanka-44.2 percent.

Visitor arrivals from Asia (other than South Asia) also saw a growth of 8.8 percent, with Japan-14.5 percent, Malaysia-16.4 percent, and South Korea-44.9 percent and Thailand-154.3 percent.

However, arrivals from China and Singapore registered negative growths of 3.8 percent and 5.5 percent respectively.

Europe registered an overall growth of 8.6 percent. Arrivals from France, Germany, Italy, Netherl-ands, Russia, Spain, Sweden, and the UK upped by 8.3 percent, 25.7 percent, 3.2 percent, 9.1 percent, 1.5 percent, 16.8 percent 13.4 percent, and 4.9 percent respectively. Arrivals from Australia and New Zealand upped by 10.8 percent and 30.2 percent respectively. Similarly, the USA and Canada have registered growth of 39.2 percent and 31.5 percent respectively.

Nepal had marked 1998 as Visit Nepal Year to disseminate positive image of Nepal for tourism. With this move, the year 1999 witnessed the highest visitors. However, the numbers started decreasing gradually after 1999. Due to the decade-long conflict, tourist arrivals saw ups and downs.

“The political commitment made by the parties not to launch strikes in 2011 is the positive message,” said Baral. NTB’s promotion in the international level, private sector’s participation and marketing for NTY-2011 and increased international airlines movement has boosted arrivals in Nepal.

With the growth in tourist arrivals, international airlines have launched new services in Nepal. Only 12 international airlines had been providing service during the conflict, where as the number of airlines has doubled now.

Visitor Arrivals by Air

Year Tourists
1998 398,008
1999 421,243
2000 376,914
2001 299,514
2002 218,660
2003 275,438
2004 297,335
2005 277,346
2006 283,819
2007 360,713
2008 374,661
2009 378,712
2010 412,446

Source: Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation

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