Spending of foreign tourists who visited Nepal surged by 41.9 percent in the first 11 months of the current fiscal year, as arrivals of foreign nationals continued to increase after India lifted economic blockade in February 2016 and life gradually returned back to normalcy following devastating earthquakes of April and May 2015.
Foreigners travelling to Nepal spent Rs55.2 billion in the 11-month period between mid-July and mid-June, as against Rs38.9 billion in the same period a year ago, shows the latest report of the Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB), the central bank.
Nepal’s tourism income rose because of rise in inflow of foreign tourists, according to experts, although updated official data on tourist arrivals are not available. Nepal is expected to attract around 800,000 foreign tourists in 2017, according to World Travel and Tourism Council.
This income made by the tourism sector largely helped the country to maintain services trade surplus of Rs6 billion in the 11-month period.
Yet what is worrying is that services trade surplus of the country is gradually narrowing over the years, indicating Nepalis’ growing appetite for foreign services may cause services trade to slip into deficit as well.
Nepal recorded a services trade surplus of Rs24.3 billion in the first 11 months of fiscal year 2014-15. This amount fell to Rs9.5 billion in the same period of fiscal year 2015-16. Now that figure has further dipped.
“This is largely because of rise in expenditure of Nepalis who visit overseas countries seeking employment, and healthcare and education services,” said Nara Bahadur Thapa, executive director of the Research Department of the NRB.
Nepalis, who visited foreign countries, spent Rs72.9 billion in the first 11 months of the current fiscal year, up 44 percent than in the same period a year ago, shows the NRB report. This money was largely spent by army personnel who take part in the United Nation’s peace operations, officials working for state agencies and private companies, those seeking employment and healthcare services, students pursuing studies, Nepali overseas travellers and entrepreneurs, among others.
Of the total money spent by Nepalis abroad, Rs31.2 billion was spent by students. This makes up almost 43 percent of the total money spent by Nepalis abroad.
Also, a lot of money has been going overseas to cover transport costs, shows the NRB report. This includes income generated by foreign airline companies that operate flights to Nepal, and other expenses incurred to ferry goods to the country.
Nepal spent Rs41.4 billion to cover foreign transport costs in the first 11 months of the current fiscal year, up 3.5 percent than in the same period a year ago.
“Considering the manner in which money is flowing outside of the country, we must focus on bringing in more tourists to the country, as tourism has remained one of the largest foreign currency earners in the services sector,” said Thapa.
Nepal’s travel and tourism sector is said to have pumped Rs177 billion into the economy and supported more than 427,000 jobs in 2016, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.Published: 2017-07-12 08:46:59