In 2020, Nepal tourism plunged to the lowest level in 34 years

 Tuesday, January 5, 2021 


In Nepal last year, the number of international tourists has dropped more than 80 percent. This was the lowest level in 34 years, as per official figures published on Sunday, as the pandemic hit world travel.

As per the statistics produced by the Department of Immigration, 230,085 international tourists visited Nepal last year, which the government of the Himalayan nation had announced as “Visit Nepal 2020”. It was planned to draw two million visitors.

“The arrival figure is far worse than the downturn during the Maoist insurgency (1996-2006) and the 2015 earthquakes combined,” Dhananjaya Regmi, chief executive officer of the Nepal Tourism Board, told Efe. “But we hope to rebound by mid-2021.”

The then Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M) in 1996 declared a “people’s war” against the “ruling classes,” which included the monarchy and mainstream political parties.

Because of this, tourist arrival to Nepal dropped to 275,468 individuals in 2002, the peak season of the conflict, from 491,504 arrivals in 1999. The Civil War, which came to a conclusion after a peace agreement between the government and Maoist insurgents in 2006 left more than 17,000 people dead.

In 2007, Nepal for the first time, received tourists in a half a million mark.
The tourism industry of Nepal suffered the 2015 earthquake and lost nearly 9,000 people. During that time, the arrivals dropped by 32 percent to 538,970.

For the first time in 2018, the arrivals crossed the popular one-million mark with 1.17 million foreign tourists visiting the country.

To Nepal, Tourism is vital as spending from foreign tourists amounted to 8 percent of GDP in 2018 and provided direct and indirect jobs for 1.05 million people, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council research report.

“We hope foreign visitors will return this spring [April-June], one of the country’s high tourist season,” Naresh Bhattarai, a Pokhara-based tourism entrepreneur, told EFE.

“As vaccine is now approved in many countries, it could change travel. This could be a big respite for the countries whose economies are based on tourism.”

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