1.6 lakh Indians visit Nepal by air in 2012

Written by PTI | Kathmandu | Updated: Jan 3 2013, 03:29am hrs
BusinessTourists look at a tattoo vendor during a tourism festival in Kathmandu organized to celebrate World Tourism Day. Reuters
Unfazed by the political uncertainty in Nepal, nearly 1.6 lakh Indians visited the country by air last year, registering a growth of 13.3 per cent in comparison to an overall growth of 9.76 per cent in foreign visitors, according to official figures.

A total of 598,204 foreign visitors arrived in the Himalayan nation by air from January to December registering a growth of 9.76 per cent while the Indian visitors' arrivals grew by 13.3 per cent to 164,680 during the same period, Nepal Tourism Board announced today.

The overall growth marked a three-year low, with the previous two years witnessing a growth of 22.1 per cent and 18.2 per cent respectively in foreign air passengers.

There was better news from Nepal's largest European markets, the United Kingdom and Germany, which grew by 11.9 and 23.7 per cent respectively, while arrivals from Australia, New Zealand and United States grew by 24.4 per cent, 20.3 per cent and 4.9 per cent respectively.

The low growth in tourist arrival can be attributed to Nepal's ongoing political instability with the Constituent Assembly having dissolved in May 2012 without drafting a constitution and uncertainty over holding fresh polls.

Nepal's tourism industry, known as the major foreign exchange earner earlier saw a steep decline during the decade-long Maoist insurgency which ended in 2006.

India is one of the major tourism markets of Nepal. Many Indian visitors to the country cross the border by road, for which figures were not available.