KATHMANDU, Nepal – The CPN-Maoist’s move to ban Indian number plate vehicles from entering Nepal has directly affected tourist arrivals by land.
“We have observed a sudden drop in the number of Indian tourist arrivals through Bhairahawa border,” said president of Siddhartha Association of Tour and Travel Agents (SATTA) Sanjay Bajimaya.
“The flow of Indian tourists has dropped by 50 per cent due to the ban,” he said, adding that though the party has softened its stance, tour operators are still facing problems in assuring tourists about the current situation.
According to SATTA, on an average around 2000 tourists arrive in a day through the border. “During the ban, the figures fell by 95 per cent,” said first vice president of Siddhartha Hotel Association Nepal (SHAN) CP Shrestha. “The CPN-Maoist’s move to ban Indian number plate vehicles might also affect the peak tourist season,” he said. “As tourist arrivals have already dropped after the issue, we doubt if there will be substantial tourist arrivals in the peak season,” he said.
The peak tourist season in Nepal starts from October till December.
According to SATTA, during the first nine months of the current year, around two lakh tourists arrived in Nepal through land and it has expected around one lakh Indian tourists and 50,000 tourists from other destinations in October, November and December.
“We believe that tourist arrivals from other countries will not be affected much, but the number of Indian tourists could fall in the peak season,” said Bajimaya, adding that such a move will have a long-term effect in Indian tourist arrivals.
The CPN-Maoist had recently put a ban on Indian number plate vehicles. However, after sustained pressure from concerned stakeholders, it has softened its stance. Various tourism associations have also condemned the ban on Indian number plate vehicles.