Monday, January 2, 2012

Nepal Tourism Year 2011 concludes short of target

The much hyped Nepal Tourism Year (NTY) 2011 came to an end yesterday. When the campaign was launched in 2010, the target was to attract one million visitors, of which 40 percent were targeted to be from India and China.

So, how many visitors came to Nepal in 2010? Here are three different numbers from three different newspapers (Republica and TKP quoted the same source—TIA’s Immigration Office):

  • Republica: 730,000 visitors
    • 544,985 tourists entered the country via air
    • Chinese 45,400; 145,000 Indian tourists
    • Share of Chinese tourists in total arrivals increased by 8.3 percent, second only to India that had market share of 26.7 percent.
  • The Kathmandu Post: 737,597 visitors
    • Chinese 75,517 (45,400 by air and 30,117 overland); 145,338 (by air only)
  • The Himalayan Times: 719,547 visitors (till November 2011)
    • 501,264 by air and 174,612 by land till November 2011
    • In 2011, 544,985 arrivals by air, only 96,216 more than a year ago

I tried to get the figures from official sources but they are not yet uploaded on the websites.

Anyway, the last time such a mega campaign was launched was in 1998 when around 464,000 tourists visited Nepal, earning US$24.8 US$248 million in revenue. The Nepali tourism industry has come a long way since 6,179 visitors visited Nepal in 1962. It increased to 509,752 (378,712 by air and 131,040 by land) in 2009. Here is a detailed report on 2010’s tourism activities.

My hasty comments on NTY 2011:

  • The target of one million tourists was way too high, especially given the past record, political instability, quality of infrastructure and resources.
  • Though number of tourists went up, tourism receipts of tourism enterprises did not go up as expected. We will have to wait to see the total tourism revenue earned in 2011. It could be that more restaurants, hotels, travel and trekking agencies were opened up expecting a surge in visitors. Surge did happen to some extent, but the increased total revenue was divided among these old and new enterprises. This might have caused low reported earnings (or less than expected) of tourism enterprises.
  • Commitments to spare tourism sector from strikes and disturbances were not kept. Few days after making such commitments by all parties, a nationwide strike was organized. Leaders failed to walk the talk. Also, the tourism sector was battered by labor strikes and vandalism.
  • The soring cost of production did not help to make our tourism sector competitive.