14 November 2008
Nepal's tourism industry recovering after travel warning dropped
After being cleared of travel warnings and enjoying stability once again throughout the Himalayas, Nepal is expecting to see a massive upsurge in the number of tourists this year.
Maoists, who were elected to power earlier this year, will be working hard to restore tourism to its traditionally lucrative levels. Last year, tourism contributed to USD$230 billion, or 4 per cent of the nation's GDP, and generates crucial jobs in the rural and poverty-stricken areas.
"The industry is ripe for expansion," Tourism Minister Hisila Yami said. "We are focusing on rural tourism as we think this could bring an immediate impact to areas that have never seen tourists."
The Government is aiming to welcome one million visitors to Nepal annually by 2011, and already hotels have seen a sharp increase in the number of bookings for next year. Last month, 50,000 people visited Nepal, which is the highest monthly intake for eight years.
"Most of our tourists are backpackers, trekkers and high altitude climbers and the economic crisis should not deter these kinds of people," said Sarad Pradhan, a Nepal Tourism Board spokesperson.
Officials have waivered mountaineering royalties to encourage more visitors to the world's highest mountains on Nepal's northern borders.
After the Maoists were elected to government in April, the UK, US, and Japan downgraded their travel warning to Nepal.
All visitors to Nepal are required to have a Nepal tourist visa to visit for reasons of travel, business, study or transit, except for Indian nationals. Nepal tourist visas allow visitors to stay in the country for up to 60 days.
The Worldwide Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in Nepal visa and immigration services.
Article by Jessica Bird, Worldwide Visa Bureau.