Hoteliers elated as Saarc Summit boosts occupancy

- SANGAM PRASAIN, Kathmandu
Hoteliers elated as Saarc Summit boosts occupancy

Nov 22, 2014-

The 18th Saarc Summit has given much-needed boost to Kathmandu-based hotels, and the hoteliers are eying record-high occupancy this November. The summit programmes officially started on Saturday.

The high occupancy has also boosted their confidence to raise room rates, which have historically been on the lower side, making Nepal one of the cheapest tourist destinations in the region. Hotel operators said the average room occupancy is likely to cross 94 percent, while the tariff has crossed $100 this November, aided by the peak tourist season and the summit.

Last November, the average occupancy rate of Kathmandu’s five-star hotels was 70.84 percent, according to the Tourism Ministry statistics. Soaltee Hotel, which will host the heads of state and government, has received the largest number of bookings—almost 185 room nights, according to the Hotel Association of Nepal (HAN). Radisson Hotel has been booked for the Saarc media centre and Hyatt Regency for bilateral talks and meetings.

Almost all five-star hotels, and two three-star hotels—Grand Hotel and newly-constructed Platinum Hotel in Soltimode—have been booked for the Saarc delegates. Dhulikhel is where the heads of state and government will head for a retreat.

Hoteliers in Lumbini are also upbeat about the planned visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay and Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

More than 1,500 delegates, including summit observers, analyst and journalists, are expected to arrive in Kathmandu to attend the week-long meet. “Indeed, this November has become a historic month for hoteliers,” said Bharat Joshi, resident manager at Hotel Yak & Yeti, adding around 60 room nights have been booked for Saarc delegates.

Nepal is in final stages of completion of its infrastructure upgradation drive. Roads, markets, restaurants and hotels have been renovated and decorated to welcome the Saarc dignitaries.

“And, all these happenings would boost tourism as we hope more foreign tourists would visit this landlocked country after it gets wide publicity during the summit,” said Joshi. “In fact, the event will help boost Nepal’s image as a tourism destination.”

HAN Executive Director Prabesh Aryal said hotel occupancy in Kathmandu is exceptionally strong and hotels are also expected to earn better revenues. “The tourism industry faced the worst times with the decade long conflict, and then political instability. But things are looking better now, as investment in the hospitality sector is rising,” Aryal said, adding this international conference would help Nepal recover its lost glory.

Nepal generally has two peak tourist seasons—March-April in spring and October-November in autumn—and most of hotels await the autumn when the average occupancy reaches 80 percent.

According to the Tourism Ministry, Kathmandu’s eight luxury hotels achieved an average occupancy of 62.37 percent last year, down from 66.76 percent in the previous year. In 2011, the rate was 66.11 percent.

The properties recorded the highest occupancy rates of 75.79 percent and 70.84 percent in October and November, respectively, in 2013. The rates were at 84.10 percent and 88.50 percent, respectively, in 2012.

Of the 575,240 room nights in Kathmandu-based properties last year, only 358,787 were occupied. There are 10 five-star properties in Nepal, two of them in Pokhara. The country received 797,616 foreign visitors and earned Rs 43 billion from tourism last year.

Published: 23-11-2014 09:52

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