Nepali tourism sector confronting recession

April 13, 2009 11:54 pm 

KATHMANDU, April 13 — Nepali tourism sector is striving against possible ill effect caused by the global financial crisis, local newspaper The Himalayan Times reported on Monday.

"We are observing the effects of the crisis since mid-2008. This is both threat and opportunity for us, and we need to move forward with positive attitude," said Ramchandra Man Singh, secretary at the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoTCA), during an media interaction program organized in Nepali capital Kathmandu on Sunday.

The sector should encourage tourists from other regions where information about Nepal is not extensive, said Singh adding that there should be new strategies to create new tourist destinations and promote Nepal in terms of an adventure and sports tourism destination.

"We still have the capacity to lure tourists from South Asian and Middle Eastern regions. We need to discover the demand," said Singh. "Better marketing strategies, increasing number of flights with more facilities to the tourist should do the trick," he said.

Talking about the trend of tourist arrivals in Nepal, Singh said,"Till June 2008, there was an increase of eight percent in arrivals but afterwards there was a fall by one percent. In 2008, the total global tourism growth was only two percent which compared to the same period last year was seven percent.

According to a recent United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) survey report, tourism flow in 2008 and in 2009 will be approximately equal or might decrease by two percent. If global recession continues, the situation might change.

For the total tourist air arrivals, in January, there was a total fall of 15.8 percent. In February, it was 16.2 percent while in March it became 17.6 percent. It was an average drop of 16 percent, said Singh.

"We are working on different plans to attract tourists to visit Nepal and we are getting great response. We think we can recover if things go well," he added.

Nepal Tour and Travel Agents (NATTA) president Ram Kaji Koney said though there is recession period his sector was hopeful of bringing positive results in the tourism sector.

"We need to have strong commitment from various parties to stop internal road blockades," he said. According to Koney, recent data of the past six month show there were a total of 45 days of curfew and 25 percent of roadblocks caused tourists to cancel visits to their desired destinations.

Trekking Agencies' Association of Nepal (TAAN) president Jyoti Adhikari said, "We are hopeful of doubling the number of tourist arrivals. For this, we need to have a collaborative approach and tourist-friendly environment. The increasing number of airlines or flights alone cannot increase the number of tourists. There must be easy road access for tourists." (PNA/Xinhua)

ALM/ebp

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