Malaysia can be another gateway to come to Nepal. As Nepal's tourism season begins, good news for tourism entrepreneurs is that Malaysian Airlines has started direct flights between Kathmandu and Kuala Lumpur from September 1, 2012. Malaysian Airlines is the second Malaysian company after Air Asia to start flights in the Kathmandu-Kuala Lumpur route, which was previously monopolized by Nepal Airlines.
“This is a timely addition to our network where Malaysia and Nepal can mutually benefit from various commercial relations including trade, investment and tourism promotions. We see great potential in Kathmandu, especially during the forthcoming year-end holiday season and have fast-tracked this aspect of our operations to commence services to Kathmandu this year,” Malaysia Airlines Regional Sales Vice President Malaysia & ASEAN Region, Encik MuzammilMohamad said in the Airlines official website.
“Kathmandu is a hub for independent travelers as well as a growing vacation spot catering to all budgets. Surrounded by serene mountains, it is a perfect place for those who yearn for a relaxing year-end holiday or even a challenging mountain climbing adventure. We also foresee and welcome the labor market traffic from Nepal to Malaysia to use this direct connection.”
A two-class configured Boeing 737-800 aircraft with 144 economy class seats and 16 business seats is being operated for the Kathmandu-Kuala Lumpur route. As per the schedules, the flights will be on operation on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, offering 960 seats in both directions each week.
The airlines company has also offered all-in return economy class promotional fare starting from Rs. 45,619 to travel to Malaysia from Kathmandu. Yajna Prasad Gautam, secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, said many international airlines were attracted towards Nepal after it adopted an open air policy.
According to RSS, the number of international airlines operating in Nepal has now reached 31.
Despite the increase in the number of flights, however, tourist arrivals in August witnessed a mere 2.5 per cent increase by air as compared to the same month of last year, according to Immigration Office, Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA).
August is considered as one the low-seasons in Nepalese tourism sector. But, the growth rate was still very low while compared with the previous months, according to tourism entrepreneurs. According to Immigration Office, some 44,571 tourists visited Nepal this August by air.
South Asian tourist arrivals recorded an overall growth of 4.2 percent. However, Indian and Chinese arrivals recorded a negative growth. Visitor arrivals from Bangladesh have gone up to 72.3 percent and from Pakistan 17 percent. Arrivals from India recorded a negative growth of 1.2 percent with 14,307 visitors and Sri Lanka 15.7 percent compared to the same months last year.
In the first eight months of 2012, total tourist arrivals reached 377,043, which is 16.3 percent higher compared to the same period last year.
Arrivals from Asia (other than the South Asia region) also saw a growth of 0.6 percent. Arrivals from Japan, Malaysia, South Korea and Thailand recorded positive growth of 10.1 percent, 15.5 percent, 18.3 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively. However, the number of visitors from Singapore dropped by 5 percent.
An overall positive growth of 6.1 percent has been observed from the European markets. Tourist arrivals from Australia have increased by 2.7 percent while tourists from New Zealand, USA and Canada decreased by 9.8 percent, 1.9 percent, and 13 percent respectively.
Nepal-Malaysia Travel Mart
As the two Malaysian Airlines started their regular flights, Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) and Tourism Malaysia jointly organized Nepal-Malaysia Travel Mart 2012. Director General of Tourism Malaysia Dato Mirza Mohammad Taiyab, officiating CEO of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) Subash Niraula and commercial director of Malaysia Airlines Dr Hugh Noel Dunleavy jointly inaugurated the Nepal-Malaysia Travel Mart.
According to NTB, the main objective of the mart is to provide an opportunity for travel and tour operators of the two countries to come together and to highlight the tourism potential of both countries. Nepal received 8,286 visitors from Malaysia while more than 30,000 Nepali tourists visited Malaysia last year, according to media reports.