Indian tourists continue to shy away from Nepal


Alarmed by tales of violence and lawlessness in Nepal carried by the Indian media and lured at the same time by holiday packages for Europe and Southeast Asian countries, Indian tourists are shying away from the Himalayan kingdom that not too long ago was a favourite destination.

According to data on the number of air travellers released by the immigration office at Nepal’s Tribhuvan International Airport, while October showed a healthy growth of 18 percent, the Indian market continued to go down.

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The maximum rise was noted in the number of Chinese tourists, which went up by 133 percent. Sweden came second with 91.7 percent growth.

With the ceasefire signed by the Maoists holding and the advent of new airlines in the country, Europeans too have started flocking to Nepal.

Tourists from Denmark showed 88.6 percent growth, followed by Austria (56.9 percent), Norway (55.4 percent), Belgium (50.3 percent), and Germany (33.3 percent).

Visitors from South Korea saw a 37 percent rise with SAARC neighbours too showing greater interest, like Bangladesh (51.1 percent) and Sri Lanka (56.6 percent).

Ignoring a stringent travel advisory issued by the US, the American market also grew by over 40 percent and Canada by 43.2 percent, according to the travel data.

The total arrivals in the last nine months, Nepal Tourism Board said in a statement issued Saturday, have gone up by 30 percent in comparison to the same period last year.

However, while most countries recorded very ‘optimistic figures’, the board said the Indian market has shown a negative growth.

Cheap tour packages floated by Souteast Asian and European countries have reportedly lured the upwardly mobile Indian, causing a decline in Indian tourist arrivals, it said.

However, Nepal is hoping there would be more tourists from India in future with a Nepali budget airline, Cosmic Air, resuming flights to New Delhi and Varanasi.

A second Nepali airline, Yeti, has received permission from the Civil Aviation Authorities here and is likely to start flights to India soon.