Money

Tourism earnings hit record Rs58.52b last fiscal year

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Aug 25, 2017-Nepal earned a record Rs58.52 billion in foreign exchange from the tourism industry in the last fiscal year 2016-17 ended mid-July, according to the latest figures released by Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB). The figure represents a steep 40 percent jump from the previous fiscal year.  The country had received 845,147 tourists in the last fiscal year.

The country’s annual foreign exchange earnings from tourism are calculated by adding the tourist service charge collected at the airport and monies earned by hotels and travel agencies, among other establishments. The calculation is also based on data received from money changers.

“Everyone knows the importance of marketing in the tourism sector. And undoubtedly, traditional marketing methods have changed to effective digital marketing strategies drawing a bigger number of tourists to Nepal,” said tourism expert Hari Sarmah.

Two changes happened in the industry after the 2015 earthquakes—the private sector got into the driving seat and entrepreneurs plunged into social and digital marketing.

“The private sector has started to open its wallet wider for tourism promotion as they have invested a lot of money in new infrastructure. In fact, fiscal 2016-17 was the most productive year with almost every hotel and travel trade organization engaged in tourism promotion abroad,” he said.

“Unlike in past years, the private sector does not come to the government asking for a budget allocation for tourism promotion. The Nepal Tourism Board also played an active role to promote Nepal after the earthquakes,” he said, adding that the impact was reflected in arrivals and revenue growth.

Sarmah said that the poor condition of Tribhuvan International Airport and the inability of Nepal Airlines to expand rapidly remained impediments to tourism growth. “Nepal Airlines should be stronger to generate more foreign exchange earnings.”

Tourist arrivals to Nepal jumped 41.50 percent to 460,237 individuals in the first half of 2017, raising expectations that the total figure will hit the 1-million mark by the end of the year.

According to the Department of Immigration, Nepal received 134,988 more tourists in the first six months of this year compared to the same period last year, with most of the increase resulting from a surge in arrivals from India, China, the US and the UK.

The peak tourist season does not begin until September, and tourism entrepreneurs are optimistic that arrivals will hit the 1-million mark this year. In 2011, the country had endeavored to attract 1 million arrivals, but the goal proved unattainable.

Ashok Pokhrel, president of the Nepal Association of Tour Operators, said social media had transformed tourism marketing. Traditional marketing is still an integral part of the tourism industry, but it’s ‘hashtags’ that have changed the industry, he said.

The tourism industry has had to evolve quickly to keep up with changing trends. Nepal is no exception. Social sharing sites like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter have given travellers more options as they can check out images, affordability and hassle-free arrangements to choose their destination.

Besides, Nepal received a lot of media exposure following the earthquake which aroused tremendous interest among potential travelers. The world’s leading travel guide Lonely Planet had named Nepal the world’s ‘best value destination’ for 2017.

Likewise, Nepal has been placed on the list of the top 10 places that deserve more travellers by National Geographic. The UK-based popular travel publication has placed Nepal among the top three spots in its list of 10 places. 

Published: 25-08-2017 08:27

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