Nepal attracts record number of tourists: Govt

A record number of tourists flew to Nepal last yr with most of the growth coming from neighbouring India & China.

Last Updated: Jan 03, 2011, 22:22 PM IST

Kathmandu: A record number of tourists flew
to Nepal last year, with most of the growth coming from
neighbouring India and China, according to official figures
released Monday.

The Nepal Tourism Board said the arrival of 448,769
foreign visitors at the country`s only international airport
in 2010, 15 per cent more than in 2009, showed tourism had
recovered from the impact of a 10-year civil war.

The figure rises by about 50,000 when visitors travelling
overland are included, but officials conceded it would be
difficult to meet a government goal of attracting a million
tourists in 2011.

"We are reasonably optimistic about 2011, but we will be
hampered by the lack of direct flights from European
countries," said tourism board spokesman Sarad Pradhan.
The government last year declared it would double the
number of tourists coming to the Himalayan nation in 2011,
dubbing it "Visit Nepal Year."

But the country continues to be dogged by political
instability, and few believe the current caretaker government
has done enough to achieve anything like that number.
In an editorial today, Republica, an English-language
daily newspaper, said tourism could lift thousands of Nepalese
out of poverty. The sector accounts for around seven per cent
of Nepal`s gross domestic product.

But it said there was a "huge gap between our aspiration
and our ability," citing a shortage of hotel rooms and a lack
of capacity at the "archaic" international airport in the
capital Kathmandu.

The number of Indian tourists travelling to Nepal more
than doubled in 2010 to 111,512, while the number of Chinese
visitors reached 37,576, a slight increase on 2009.

PTI