Nepal Plans to Increase Tourism in 2014

A recent report by Nepal’s central bank noted that the country has the infrastructure to accommodate up to 7.44 million tourists annually. The survey’s statistics were based on a number of economic indicators in eight of Nepal’s major cities – Kathmandu, Pokhara, Janakpur, Biratnagar, Birgunj, Nepalgunj, Bhairahawa and Dhangadhi. The report also noted that Nepal has not made full use of its capacity to attract tourists, while acknowledging that the country’s hospitality sector had shown an improvement in service and facilities. Moreover, it was emphasized that more could be done to diversify tourism products through promotional campaigns and moving beyond traditional tourism in order to create employment opportunities and thereby alleviate poverty.

Statistics revealed that Kathmandu has the most tourist-standard hotels and lodges, with Pokhara coming in at second place. Kathmandu has 457 hotels considered to be of tourist standard, being an increase of 10.92 percent over last year. A total of 586,668 tourists visited Kathmandu during the last fiscal year, with 143,196 of these visitors coming from India.

There has been a 20 percent growth in hotels in Biratnagar, which is also a popular destination for Indian visitors. As noted on the report, of the 49,607 tourists visiting Biratnagar, 42,703 were from India. The lakeside city of Pokhara has 456 hotels with 8,969 rooms between them. Some 78 hotels and lodges were built in the last fiscal year, but the report showed that tourist arrivals in the city dropped by 66.44 percent during that time period.

Plans to increase tourist numbers in Nepal include developing Lumbini – the birthplace of Gautama Buddha – as a tourist destination, focusing on attracting followers of Buddhism. Statistics reveal that Lumbini receives up to 800,000 international and domestic tourists each year. Authorities hope to increase that number substantially by focusing on the fact that Lumbini is the place where the founder of Buddhism was born. Currently the area developed for tourism at Lumbini is restricted to Kapilvastu and an area of around three square kilometers. The extended area will cover an area of more than 100 square kilometers and include the districts of Nawalparasi and Rupandehi, with the archeologically important sites of Tilaurakot, Ramnagar, Niglihawa, Pillar, Devdeha, Sagrahawa, Arorakot, Kudan and Ashoka.