Nepal is confident it can reach one million international travellers in 2023 after welcoming close to 615,000 travellers in 2022. India, the USA and the UK were the top inbound markets for the country last year.

Nepal is on the path to welcoming one million foreign travellers in 2023 according to Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) CEO, Dhananjay Regmi. In 2019, the country recorded a total of 1.2 million international visitors.

The Nepal Tourism Board said that hitting at least one million travellers in 2023 will be largely achieved by attracting visitors from Asia.

“After two years of stagnation because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the industry is in a revival phase,” said Dhananjay Regmi, during a celebration programme to mark the 24th anniversary of the board. “We will focus on attracting more visitors from Southeast Asia and the Middle East this year by launching more promotional campaigns in these regions.”

Nepal could also expect a surge of travellers from China and Japan now that Covid restrictions have been lifted for outbound travel in both countries.

According to first available data, Nepal welcomed 614,148 travellers in 2022; a total of 230,085 tourists in 2020 and 150,962 in 2020.

India emerged as Nepal’s top inbound tourist market in 2022 with a total of 209,105 visitors, representing a market share of 34% of all arrivals. India was followed by the US with 77,009 visitors (12.5% market share) and the UK with 44,781 travellers (7.3%). Australia was in fourth position with 26,874 inbound visitors, followed by Bangladesh with 25,384 tourists. In total, countries from South Asia generated over 40% of all arrivals to the country.

New airports to stimulate tourism?

Tourism remains a major economic sector for the Himalayan nation. The tourism and travel industry contributed approximately 6.7% to Nepal’s GDP. It is also the fourth largest employer in the country.

On January 1st, 2023, Nepal inaugurated its third international airport in the city of Pokhara after Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport and Gautam Buddha International Airport in the southern city of Bhairahawa. The latter was only opened in May 2022 and is the air gateway to Lumbini, the pilgrimage site of the Buddha. Pokhara is a popular destination for trekkers and hikers as it is closed to mountain ranges including Annapurna and Dhaulagiri. Chinese companies were involved in the construction of both airports.

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