Nepal has seen more tourists arriving since January than in the whole of 2021. In 2021, the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) recorded over 150,000 foreign visitors. For example, in May 2022 alone, the NTB counted nearly 53,608 tourists. However, arrivals remain well below pre-pandemic levels. In 2019, Nepal received a total of 1.3 million foreign tourists arriving by air. This does not include those arriving overland from India. It is estimated that one tourist visit creates 10 employment opportunities in Nepal.
According to the Nepal Rastra Bank, the tourism sector employs around 20% of Nepal’s workforce and contributes 3% of gross domestic product (GDP).
A decline in tourist arrivals, especially from China, has proven to be the main factor in the overall slump, as China has remained the second largest source market after India for Nepal’s tourism industry for over a decade to 2020, the data showed.
Since January, only 1,626 Chinese nationals have visited Nepal compared to 2019, 1,69,543 tourists arrived.
Before the pandemic, China was one of the main sources of tourism in Nepal, but strict pandemic measures prevent tourism from China. Before the pandemic, there had been four direct flights from China.
On June 2, 2022, Nepal launched its first China-Nepal direct flight after more than two years.
The board director said tourist numbers would have shot up had China resumed flight services.
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“The tourism sector in Nepal has of course suffered, our economy is very dependent on tourism. I am very happy to say that once the third wave passed and things started to improve, our numbers started to very increase well. As in the past, India is at the top of the pact. So we get a lot of Indian tourists, they come in large numbers. One thing that is very interesting about the Indian market is that previously they only came for religion and shopping, but now we have a huge segment of Indians coming for adventure activities, Nandini Lahe Thapa, director of the Nepal Tourism Board, told WION.
Speaking on the challenges the country is facing as the tourism sector recovers, “The industry has struggled to cope with all the losses. skills in the meantime because a lot of our skilled staff have moved to other countries like the Maldives, the Middle East. Now it’s about finding out who is there and training new skills for new new people,” she added.
The tourism and hospitality industry in Nepal continues to face shortages with the majority of employees leaving the sector during the pandemic.
Many tour guides and service personnel have changed professions or left the country in search of employment.
The NTB said the tourism sector is expected to recover gradually as more workers return. However, people remained worried about a possible return of pandemic restrictions or the spread of monkeypox.
“I have worked in the tourism sector for 36 years. It is the only source of livelihood and income for my family. During COVID, the situation was so stressful that I cannot express it. The workers involved in the tourism sector have lost their Due to a lack of tourists and jobs, many have been forced to leave Kathmandu and return to their hometowns,” said Kundan Chhetri, trekking and rafting guide at WION.
Binod Gautam, an artist in Kathmandu, has been involved in stone craftsmanship for 15 years. The influx of tourists has a direct impact on its activity. He says locals don’t buy his crafts and the only plausible way to make money is through tourists. To finish a piece of stone, it takes a week to sometimes 3 months.
“I have been with this company for 15 years. Before COVID, the business was fine but the pandemic changed everything. It became extremely difficult and I lost my income for almost two years. village to my family. After COVID, sales of my crafts are slowly picking up,” Gautam told WION.
According to NTB Research, Planning and Monitoring Director Mani R Lamichhane, in 2019, Nepal welcomed 1,197,191 tourists. The proportion of tourists from these countries is India (21.2%), China (14.2%), USA (7.8%), UK (5.1%) and Sri Lanka (4.7%).
In 2021, 230,085 tourists arrived in the Himalayan nation while in 2021 only 150,962 visited Nepal, a drop of 34.4% from 2020.
However, with the gradual easing of COVID restrictions, Nepal since January has already welcomed 190,703 people.
Even after COVID, India tops the list of number of tourists arriving in Nepal.
The top five tourists arriving in 2022 come from India, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Bangladesh.
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