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Surging tourist arrivals signal a strong recovery in tourism sector

Surging tourist arrivals signal a strong recovery in tourism sector
The recovery in the Nepali tourism sector has continued with the rising numbers of foreign visitors in the country. According to the latest statistics from the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), Nepal welcomed 77,703 foreign visitors in May. The tourist footfall in May 2023 is 99.20 percent compared to May 2019 when 78,329 foreigners visited Nepal. The tourist arrival has surged by 108.42 percent in the first five months of 2023. According to NTB, 404,231 tourists visited Nepal in the first five months of 2023 compared to 193,944 during the same period of 2022. Nepal welcomed 55,074 international visitors in January 73,255 in February, 99,426 in March, and 98,773 in April. While the number of Chinese visitors is gradually improving, Nepal received the highest number of tourists from India, the US, and the United Kingdom in April. According to NTB, 36,575 Indian tourists and 8,545 US visitors came to Nepal in May. The country welcomed 4,667 tourists from China, 2,927 tourists from the United Kingdom, 2,184 from Australia, 2,164 from Bangladesh, and 1,321 from Malaysia.

There has been a significant improvement in tourist arrivals this year, but the number is yet to touch the pre-Covid level. Nepal received 498,775 tourists in the first five months of 2019. The arrival of foreigners in the first five months of 2023 is 81.04 percent compared to the same period in 2019.

With the easing of travel restrictions and China reponing outbound travel for its citizens, Nepali tourism entrepreneurs are pinning high hopes for 2023. NTB on its 24th anniversary announced that it aims to attract at least one million foreign tourists in 2023. In 2022, tourist arrivals reached over 600,000 without any significant contribution from China. Only 9,595 Chinese tourists visited Nepal in 2022. Tour operators say they are receiving increasing fresh inquiries from major source markets including China. While the FITs (free independent travelers) have already started coming to Nepal, group travelers from the northern neighbor arrived in the second week of April, the first group tour from China after the Covid-19 pandemic. The arrival of 180 Chinese trekkers in Nepal on April 13 has rekindled hopes for Nepal's tourism sector. They were the first of four batches of nearly 8,00 Chinese trekkers to visit Nepal to trek on the Poon Hill trail located some 270 kilometers west of Kathmandu. This visit has come after China included Nepal on a second list of 40 destinations for group tours that Chinese nationals could visit starting from March 15. After the northern neighbor allowed its citizens to visit Nepal, NTB and Nepali travel trade entrepreneurs are visiting various Chinese cities to promote Nepal tourism. Travel trade entrepreneurs say that a significant contribution of Chinese tourists would be required if Nepal wants to meet the target of one million visitors in 2023. Tourist Arrivals

Month 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
January 81,273 79,702 8,874 16,975 55,074
February 102,423 98,190 9,146 19,766 73,255
March 127,351 42,776 14,977 42,006 99,426
April 109,399 14 22,732 61,589 98,773
May 78,329 31 1,468 53,608 77,703
498,775 220,713 57,197 193,944 404,231
  Top Five Source Countries in May 2023
India                                36,575 United States                8,545 China                              4,667 United Kingdom          2,927 Australia                        2,184