The year 2011 has begun with a mixed note. Nepal Arilines, the country’s only domestic carrier, has obvious limits even when it does a superb job with its ageing aircraft. The process of bringing two new aircraft has stalled following the decision of the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority.
But then Nepal Tourism Year 2011 has also begun with an ambitious aim to bring in a million tourists.
If Nepal provides enough air seats, and regular air services, nothing will be impossible. But Nepal’s tourism entrepreneurs are upset following the decision of CIAA which asked for cancellation of the deal with Airbus.
As Nepal is planning to formally embark on Nepal Tourism Year 2011, the challenge is now to bring a million tourists through the foreign airlines.
“It is very unfortunate that we are organizing Nepal Tourism Year 2011 without our own reliable aircraft. After the CIAA decision, Nepal will have to rely now to make Nepal Tourism Year 2011 a success on foreign airlines,” said tourism entrepreneur Yogendra Shakya.
Other tourism entrepreneurs also expressed disappointment over the decision. “CIAA decision is taken with mal-intention,” said Dhruba Narayan Shrestha, former president of NATA.
After the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the government of Nepal and Maoists, Nepal has seen a drastic increase in the number of tourist arrivals. Even during the election of Constituent Assembly, the number continued to rise.
As the number of tourists increased, the investment in the tourism sector also went up. In the last two years, most of the hotels have invested a huge amount of money to upgrade the facilities as well as to renovate the old structures.
“Nepal’s hotel industries have made heavy investment in the last five years to increase their capacity such as number of beds. We are able to accommodate the present numbers and there is enough place for all,” said Prasiddha Bahadur Pandey, president of Hotel Association of Nepal.
One of the constraints to accommodate the adequate number of tourists will be to provide enough rooms. Since the investment in the hotel sector was virtually zero during the ten year-long insurgency, the present process of upgradation will take a long time to meet the demands.
Realizing this, Nepal Tourism Board is now promoting Home Stay. Home Stay will increase the number of rooms as well as it will also help to send the money at the grass roots level benefiting the local community.
Despite political instability and certain level of controlled anarchy, Nepal was able to bring about 700,000 tourists in the year 2010, according to an estimate of Nepal Tourism Board.
Of course, political instability made certain impact in April and May but the situation has gradually improved. Compared to previous years, the law and order situation has improved and number of strikes and band has also declined.
According to Nepal Tourism Board, 412,446 tourists arrived in Nepal till November by air. Last year the number was 378,712. In the year 2008, 500,277 tourists visited Nepal. After 1998, Nepal is able to attract the number of tourists around 500,000. In the year 2009, 509956 tourists arrived in Nepal.
Whether one likes it or not, Nepal has already made final preparations to organize Nepal Tourism Year 2011 and Nepal needs to bring a million tourists. The success of Nepal Tourism Year 2011 will generate new hopes.