The Nepal Tourism Board is eyeing a 35 per cent growth in the Indian tourist arrivals to Nepal in 2012. According to Mr Rameswar Paudel, Counsel General, Nepal, there was a 28 per cent growth in arrival of Indian tourists in Nepal in 2011.
Nepal currently attracts a majority of the Indian travellers for its religious tourism. “We are looking at promoting our adventure tourism with a special focus on the Himalayas and adventurous activities like bungee jumping, paragliding and others,” Mr Paudel said.
India accounts for more than one-third of the total tourists' arrival in Nepal, he said and added, “In 2011, Nepal received more than 1.45 lakh tourists from India by air, which is 39.1 per cent higher as compared with that in 2010.”
Nepal attracted a total of 7.35 lakh tourists from across various countries in 2011. “Apart from the 1.54 lakh visitors who visited Nepal by air, an additional two lakh people visited the country through roadways from India,” said Mr Mani Raj Lamichhane, manager, Nepal Tourism Board.
The tourism board plans to organise a three-city road show to increase awareness and educate Indian travellers on tourism opportunities in Nepal. The road show will target prominent cities of Eastern India like Guwahati, Kolkata and Bhubaneshwar.
Tourist arrivals from the eastern region are lower due to lack of connectivity and high airfares. Indian Airlines is the only operator which has four flights a week in the Kolkata-Kathmandu route with a return airfare as high as Rs 15,000 per person, Mr Lamichhane said.
“There is a connectivity issue from Kolkata and airfares are high as there is almost no competition. Return airfares in the Delhi-Kathmandu route, in case of low cost carriers, are as low as Rs 6,000 with about 16 flights operating in a week. Tourist movements from north and south are better compared to the eastern region,” he said.
The country's private airline, Buddha Air, is likely to start operation between Kathmandu and Kolkata to overcome this hurdle. The service could be operational in the second half of the calendar year, he added.