Print Edition - 2018-02-19 | MONEY
Inbound flight bookings for April exceed 70 percent
- tourist arrivals
Feb 19, 2018-
Inbound flight bookings by holidaymakers from different long and short haul markets have exceeded 70 percent for April. Bookings for March, however, have slowed to 50 percent this year compared to last year, figures obtained from travel agencies showed.
The March-May period is one of the key tourist seasons in the Himalayan republic. Spring mostly attracts adventure and leisure tourists. The tourist season also coincides with the Everest climbing season.
Hundreds of mountaineers come to Nepal during this time with the aim of reaching the summit. The season is also known for attracting high-end tourists as climbing Everest is generally known as an expensive adventure activity, travel traders said.
Airlines from India, China and Malaysia and Dubai, the major gateways to Nepal, have jacked up their ticket prices for incoming flights, travel traders said. Tickets on outbound flight are available at a relatively lower price.
“Flight bookings for March have reached 50 percent, but we expect it will cross 90 percent by next week,” said Shyam Raj Thapaliya, managing director of Osho World Nepal. Last March, Nepal received 106,291 tourists, the second highest number after November.
According to Thapaliya, fares on inbound flights from European and US cities have increased. The cost of a one-way ticket from Delhi to Kathmandu during the tourist season in Nepal has doubled to Rs22,000, travel agencies said. According to Osho World Nepal, inbound flights from Bangkok, Guangzhou, Doha, Singapore and Hong Kong are over 70 percent booked for April.
“Given the booking trend, the spring season this year looks like being as good as last year,” said Thapaliya. According to him, flights from China are almost full for February and bookings for March-April also look encouraging. Nepal has the largest flight connectivity with China compared to other countries.
Currently, five Chinese carriers—Air China, China Eastern, China Southern, Sichuan Air and Tibet Airlines—connect Nepal with mainland China. The rise in Chinese arrivals has been attributed to increased air connectivity between Nepal and China.
Turkish Airlines, the only European airline flying to Nepal, has observed more than 50 percent bookings for March and advance bookings have crossed 60 percent for April.
Arrivals to Nepal hit a new record in 2017 but remained short of the much ballyhooed target of 1 million individuals as national elections in November and December resulted in weaker-than-expected growth, the Department of Immigration said. The country received 940,218 tourists last year, up 24.86 percent from 2016. The figure includes overland travellers.
As per the department, arrivals from the UK, Germany, France and Spain have rebounded strongly last year. The country has been witnessing a gradual decline in European tourist numbers since 2011 due to an economic recession in most parts of Europe, travel trade entrepreneurs said.
Likewise, Nepal recorded strong arrivals from India, the US, Australia and Japan, most of them recording double-digit growth. Arrivals from India, the country’s top tourist source market, jumped 36 percent to 160,832 individuals. Currently, more than a dozen flights are operated daily to different cities in India. Indian arrivals over surface routes, however, are not taken into account in the arrival figures.
Published: 19-02-2018 08:58