“Nepal can welcome 3 to 3.5 million tourists per year”


KATHMANDU, NOVEMBER 20: The Nepali tourism industry, inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic for the last 3 years, is not showing promising signs of recovery.   The tourist arrivals in the last month have grown astronomically to 1,17,300 in the last month of October this year.

According to the Nepal Tourism Board, in October months of 2020, 2021, and 2022,  the arrival figures of travelers were as low as 1,831, 15,715, and 52,121 respectively.

With the significant upturn in the number of tourists, a tourism-related sector like hotels also seems to be doing fairly well. “Presently, it is not so easy for visitors to book a room in any star-rated hotel in the Kathmandu valley,” says Binayak Shah, President of the Hotel Association of Nepal (HAN).

According to him, the occupancy rate of such hotels in the valley now stands at an impressive 80 percent on average. The hotels in Chitwan also have the same occupancy rate. Similarly, the hotel rooms in Pokhara are 70 percent packed, and those in  Lumbini are 50 percent full. Previously, during the times of the pandemic, such a rate was even below 30 percent. “The hotels in these tourist cities are simply doing brisk business,” he reveals.

There are more than 3,500 hotels affiliated with the HAN and their combined room capacity is 45,000.  Among such hotels, as many as 15 are five-star ones.

Shah points out the need for the government to spend more on developing tourism infrastructures to bolster the tourism industry. “If it does so, Nepal will be in a position to welcome 3 to 3,5 million tourists per year,” Shah confidently says.