KATHMANDU, Nepal- A survey that was conducted recently has recommended the government and other concerned to recognize the tourism sector as national priority area in order to harvest its potential for inclusive and sustainable growth of the economy.
“Tourism needs an urgent image makeover,” according to the Economic Survey 2012-13 that was unveiled on Friday.
The survey also highlighted the need for immediately addressing issues relating to infrastructure bottleneck, visitors’ safety and cleanliness, among others. It also suggested providing incentives to attract investment in the sector.
The survey has sought equal participation of government agencies, the private sector and the public to create a more tourism-friendly environment.
The country welcomed 803,092 tourists in 2012, which directly contributed Rs 30 billion on the country’s foreign exchange reserves.
In the first eight months of the fiscal year, Nepal earned Rs 21.45 billion in tourism revenue — 4.8 percent of the total forex earnings, according to the survey.
The survey, however, said the country was not able to capitalize on its tourism potential to the fullest. Poor industrial security, labour problem, political instability and extended load shedding hours, among others, hampered tourism, it said.
The survey has stressed on the need for an integrated tourism infrastructure and development of tourism products, particularly trekking, mountaineering and home stay, to decentralize tourism benefits.
A tourist spent 12.87 days on an average in Nepal in 2012, down from 13.12 days in 2011, the survey showed. Also, the average tourist spending has declined to a 16-year low of $34.93 per day per person in 2012.
Among the total visitors, 43.30 percent were here for the holidaying purpose, 13.59 percent for trekking and mountaineering, 12.76 percent for pilgrimage, 4.09 percent were fun seekers, 3.15 percent business travellers, 1.71 percent for seminars and 0.22 percent for rafting.
The tourism sector created 160,000 jobs in 2012. The sector had generated 110,000 employments in 2011. The number of star hotels reached 107 in 2012 from last year’s 106, while the number of tourist standards hotels and resorts rose to 743 in 2012 from 721 in 2011.
Star hotels added 48 room nights in 2012, taking the total room nights available to 9,371. Tourist standards hotels and resorts added 829 room nights to 22,286.