NEPAL secured steady 10 per cent growth in inbound tourism numbers last year even without any substantial investments in the sector, helped in part by demand from India and China.
The mountainous country recorded 598,000 inbound tourists last year, up from 2011’s 544,981 arrivals, according to Nepal Tourism Board data.
While China displayed 17.6 per cent growth, sending a total of 53,373 visitors, India still comprised the largest segment and accounted for 164,689 arrivals, an increase from 145,338 in 2011. The US sent 41,908 tourists.
Anurag Agarwal, managing director of SA Southend Travels India, said: “Nepal has been a consistently attractive and affordable holiday option for Indians in metro cities as well as first- and second-tier city dwellers.
“The hills, casinos and the cooler climate offer several itinerary options. Many corporations organise incentive tours and annual meetings in Nepal.”
Added Rajesh Arya, director of India International Tours and Travel: “Religious pilgrimages to Hindu and Buddhist sites are an added attraction. So are the soft adventure options in Nepal.”
Kashiraj Bhandari, a Nepal Tourism Board official, said: “We are trying to develop more tourist attractions apart from the natural beauty and inherent attractions of Nepal. Golfing, spa and wellness and mountain biking are becoming extremely popular and we expect our inbound tourist flow to increase substantially.”