In what could be seen as a strong recovery in the Nepali tourism business, tourist arrivals in Nepal rose to a three-year high in 2022. Over 600,000 tourists visited Nepal last year, putting an end to a two-year downward spiral that started in early 2020 when the coronavirus outbreak wreaked havoc across the world.
Data from Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) shows that a total of 614,148 international tourists visited Nepal last year, of which 67,932 came in December. While the number of foreign visitors entering Nepal grew by 306.82 percent in 2022 compared to 2021, it is still 48.70 percent lower than in 2019 when 1.19 million arrivals were recorded.
According to NTB, the largest number of foreign visitors who came to Nepal in 2022 were from India. A total of 209,105 Indian tourists visited Nepal last year. Similarly, 77,009 came from the US, 44,781 from the UK, 26,874 from Australia, and 25,384 from Bangladesh.
With two new international airports—Gautam Buddha Int’l Airport in Bhairahawa and Pokhara Regional International Airport—coming into operation, the tourism sector is buoyant about the footfalls of visitors in the country in 2023. Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal inaugurated the Pokhara International Airport on Sunday.
The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation has already prepared the strategic framework for the Nepal Tourism Decade 2023-2032 while Nepal Tourism Board has said it is targeting 1 million foreign visitors for 2023. The framework developed by a four-member expert panel led by the former NTB CEO Prachanda Man Shrestha has set ambitious targets of increasing tourist spending to $125 daily from the existing $48, creating 1 million direct jobs in the tourism sector, and increasing the tourism sector’s contribution to national GDP to 10 percent. The plan also aims to bring the tourist numbers to pre-pandemic levels by 2024 and increase arrivals in each subsequent year by 15 percent.
The NTB CEO Dhananjay Regmi, while addressing the 24th anniversary of the board on Saturday said that the tourism industry is in a revival phase after two disastrous years and the board will focus more in attracting visitors from Asia, mainly from Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
For the Nepali tourism industry, the years 2020 and 2021 came as a nightmare. With global travel coming to a grinding halt due to the restrictions enforced by governments across the world, the arrival of tourists fell to record lows resulting in massive financial losses and layoffs in the tourism and hospitality business.
In 2020, Nepal’s tourism earnings totaled USD 217 million which was USD 801 million in 2019. The earnings plummeted by 48.2 percent to a meager USD 112.5 million in 2021. Similarly, average expenses per visitor per day plunged to USD 48 in 2021 which was USD 65 in 2020.
Tourist Arrivals in Nepal
|2022 614,148 +306.82 percent
2021 150,962 -34.38 percent
2020 230,085 -80.78 percent
Monthly Arrivals in 2022