SAM

Published:
2019-12-02 11:54:24 BdST

Nepal eyes over 2.0m foreign tourists


FT ONLINE

Nepal is set to launch an ambitious campaign next year to revive its tourism sector by raising the inflow of tourists in the Himalayan country which was hit by a strong earthquake in 2015 and political instability for years.

'Visit Nepal 2020' begins with a slogan 'lifetime experience', targeting over two million foreign tourists from the present level of the arrival of more than a million tourists.

The landlocked country saw an average 25 percent increase in tourists even after the powerful earthquake struck it, officials said, adding that the new campaign will help them regain the spirit of tourism for meeting the 2020 target.

According to the National Tourism Board (NTB), 1.17 million tourists arrived in the country in 2018, followed by 940,218 in 2017 and 753,002 in 2016. A local media report said 975,557 tourists visited the country by air and road as of October this year.

The arrival of tourists in the rest months after the 2015 earthquake dropped 45 percent.

The NTB data showed that though the arrival of Indian tourists increased during the last two years, the number of tourists from Bangladesh decreased by 9.3 percent last year.

The fall in tourists was attributed to a US-Bangla plane crash which took place at Tribhuvan International Airport, the lone international airport in Nepal, in March 2018.

"We are back into track after different kinds of crises," chief executive officer of NTB Deepak Raj Joshi told a group of journalists of South Asian countries in Kathmandu last week.

He also expressed the hope that the tourists will be able to enjoy thousands of festivals and visit world heritage and nature sites, taking advantage of political stability.

When asked about tourism packages, the CEO said 40 percent of tour packages have been developed with private initiatives of travel agencies of India, Bangladesh and Nepal.

The NTB has also been making efforts to make the yearlong programme a success, he added.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) organised the regional media trip for the journalists from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Sri Lanka and Nepal to make them aware of various earthquake-resilient activities in Nepal and the scope of tourism and trade opportunities in a regional context.

It arranged visits to different project sites including a school in Dhulikhal as part of its support to build earthquake-resilient school buildings in Nepal and the country's second international airport named Gautam Buddha International Airport.

"The ADB also supports the mission of Nepal 2020 to make it successful," said the CEO.

The NTB has designed Nepal 2020 with three concepts--culture, adventure and nature lifetime experience, chalking out a series of events such as summiteers' summit, mountain bike in Gandaki province, Buddha Joyonti, Bivah Panchami and international conference on sustainable tourism and sacred river corridor raft race etc throughout the year.

"Nepal is back on speed. 2020 is sharing our stories of resilience and awaken of spiritual. All is about Nepal in transition to peace," said Suraj Vaidya, National Programme Coordinator of Visit Nepal Year 2020 Campaign while sharing his views at a reception.

He also said the year 2020 will be the stories of nature and animals as the country is set to become the first country to double wild tiger population.

Nepal has turned into a federal democratic country, allowing multiparty politics and abolishing the monarchy in 2008.

The earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale killed more than 5,000 people in 2015.

The government of Nepal has taken various reconstruction measures including building standards for earthquake zones in support with the development partners including the ADB with an earthquake emergency assistant project to rebuild the nation.

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