KATHMANDU, Nepal – Despite the ambitious target of welcoming one million visitors, only around 730,000 visitors entered the country during the much publicized Nepal Tourism Year (NTY) 2011 thanks to poor and delayed publicity campaign.
Nepal observed aggregate growth of 21.4 percent in total tourist arrivals via air in 2011, according to statistics complied by Tribhuwan International Airport (TIA) Immigration Office. A total of 544,985 tourists entered the country via air in 2011 — about 100,000 more than what the country had welcomed a year ago. Similarly, total arrivals through land routes till the first 11 months of 2011 reached 174,612.
Arrivals from Chinese recorded the highest growth with arrivals of 45,400. Share of Chinese tourists in total arrivals increased by 8.3 percent, second only to India that had market share of 26.7 percent. More than 145,000 Indian tourists visited Nepal during the year.
The market share of Asia (excluding South Asia) increased from 18.6 percent in 2010 to 20.2 percent in 2011. Drop in arrivals from Europe in 2011 meant its share in total arrivals dropped to 28.3 percent from last year´s 30.9 percent. Total arrivals from Europe during the year stood at around 155,000.
Launching NTY-2011 campaign last year, PM Madhav Kumar Nepal had said that the government was expecting to increase average stay and expenditure of tourists during the year. However, arrivals data suggests that there was no major change in tourism income and average stay despite the increment in tourist arrivals.
Though political parties had expressed commitment to refrain from enforcing banda and strikes during the year, they failed to translate it into practice. It cost the tourism industry dearly. Similarly, labor strike was the other setback for hospitality industry which led to shut down of popular hotels, including Club Himalaya and Hotel Vaishali, for few days.
“Despite all the odds, total arrivals, which is close to the target of one million, was satisfactory. I am happy with the growth and the impact of NTY will boost the growth in coming years too,” Yogendra Shakya, coordinator of NTY 2011 campaign said. “Through the campaign, we became successful to spread the message of peace and stability.”